Meta Launches Legal Action Against Data Scrapping Companies
Meta is taking legal action against another company for scraping profile data from Facebook and Instagram. Meta continues to push for legal examples to stamp out data misuse.
Meta has filed legal action against Voyager Labs in the federal court in California. Voyager Labs is a scraping and surveillance service that collects data from Facebook, Instagram, and other websites.
Meta has already disabled Voyager’s accounts, filed this legal action to enforce our terms and policies, and appealed to the court to ban Voyager from Facebook and Instagram.
Meta alleges that Voyager Labs used branded software to launch scraping campaigns on Facebook and Instagram as well as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Telegram.
According to Meta, Voyager designed its scraping software to use fake accounts to scrap data accessible to a user when logged into Facebook, including the profile information of the users, posts, friend list, photos, and comments.
Besides that, Voyager used a diverse system of computers and networks in different countries to hide its activity, including when Meta subjected the fake accounts to verification and checks.
Moreover, Voyager did not compromise Facebook. Instead of that, it uses fake accounts to scrape publicly visible information.
Now, the legality of scraping publicly accessible sites has been debated for a very long period. Even LinkedIn has been battling for years to stop a company from using its publicly available user information to fuel its service.
In 2017, LinkedIn was the first to launch legal action against hiQ Labs. LinkedIn was able to do so after discovering that hiQ had been harvesting LinkedIn user data to build its recruitment information service.
The legal case of LinkedIn has gone back and forth with some readings of the law suggesting that such action is not in violation of any particular terms.
In November 2022, the courts ruled that LinkedIn’s User Agreement ‘unequivocally prohibits scraping and the unauthorized use of scraped data as well as fake accounts.’
It will enable LinkedIn to move forward with its claim, and now Meta can use the same clause mentioned above to win or get leverage against Voyager.
According to Meta, “Our lawsuit alleges that Voyager has violated our terms of service against fake accounts and against automated and unauthorized scrapping. We are seeking a permanent injunction against Voyager to protect people against scrapping for hire services.”
Now it will be interesting to see if Meta can use the LinkedIn case as an example, and it will make it much clearer how platforms can stop data scraping in the future.
Besides that, it is the latest in the range of legal actions launched by Meta over the last few years. Now in a bid to push for updates to current laws and regulations as they refer to social media.