Meta said it is suing “scraping-for-hire” service Voyager Labs for allegedly using fake accounts, proprietary software, and an extended network of IP addresses to surreptitiously collect massive amounts of personal data from users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media. communication Web-sites.
“Defendant created and used more than 38,000 fake Facebook user accounts and its monitoring software to scrape more than 600,000 viewable profile information of Facebook users, including posts, likes, friend lists, photos, comments, and information from Facebook groups and pages,” attorneys wrote in the meta. complaint. “Defendant designed the monitoring software to hide its presence and activity from Meta and others, and sold and licensed the data it scraped for profit.”
Among the California Facebook users whose data was deleted, Meta said, were “employees of nonprofit organizations, universities, news media organizations, health care facilities, the United States Armed Forces, local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as full-time parents, retirees, and union members.” Meta said the data collection and use of the fake accounts violated its terms of service.
Based in Israel Voyager Laboratories It bills itself as an “AI-enabled investigations” service that collects data from “billions” of human pixels “and beacons” and uses AI to map relationships, track geolocations, and provide other personal data to “agencies charged with public safety.”
“By tapping into this vast ocean of data, they can gain actionable insights about individuals, groups, and topics, and then dive deep to uncover more,” company officials wrote in marketing materials attached as documents to the Meta complaint. Voyager Labs’ slogan is: “Individualize Light.”
In one case, the service used Facebook posts to identify the full names of an Italian marathon runner and his wife who had COVID-19. The service then provided a list of friends and individuals who interacted with the hostility. In another case, Voyager Labs identified patrons of a UK pub who may have contracted the deadly virus.
Among Voyager Labs’ clients, according to the exhibits, is the Los Angeles Police Department. Testimony provided by a member of the department said that Voyager Labs was “able to identify a few new targets in a much easier to read format” and was “able to process returns commands much faster that were easier to read”.
Pictures of some of the exhibits in the gallery are below:
Meta is seeking a permanent injunction that would prevent Voyager Labs from continuing this practice.
in the suit AdvertisingJessica Romero, Meta Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, writes:
Voyager has developed and used proprietary software to launch scraping campaigns against Facebook, Instagram, and websites such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Telegram. Voyager designed its scraping software to use fake accounts to scrape data a user has access to when logged into Facebook, including users’ profile information, posts, friend lists, photos, and comments. Voyager used a diverse system of computers and networks in different countries to hide its activity, including when Meta subjected fake accounts to verification or checks. Voyager did not hack Facebook, instead using fake accounts to scrape publicly viewable information.
Our lawsuit alleges that Voyager violated our Terms of Service against fake accounts and automated and unauthorized skimming. We are seeking a permanent injunction against Voyager to protect people from canceling rental services. Companies like Voyager are part of an industry that offers scraping services to anyone regardless of what users they target and for what purpose, including as a means of profiling people for criminal behavior. This industry covertly collects information that people share with their community, family, and friends, without oversight or accountability, and in a manner that may affect people’s civil rights.
Voyager Labs representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit is at least the second time Meta has taken legal action over allegations of data fraud on its platform. in Julythe company sued Octopus, a US subsidiary of a Chinese national high-tech corporation that allegedly offers to expose any website, and sued a Turkey-based respondent, Ekrem Ates, for allegedly using Instagram accounts to scrape data from their profiles. Identifying more than 350,000 users of this platform.
Not that Meta has completely clean hands when it comes to scraping unwanted junk. In 2018, many Facebook users who chose to share contacts were upset to find the company I collected years’ worth of phone call metadata from their Android phones. The data included names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received. Facebook denied that the data was collected surreptitiously.