Facebook is taking legal action against software companies responsible for distributing fake likes and comments across Facebook and Instagram.
Separate lawsuits have been filed in the United States and Europe, which marks one of the first times a social media company has used coordinated, multi-jurisdictional litigation to enforce its Terms of Service.
Facebook alleges these companies violated the laws of Spain and the US. Facebook is seeking injunctions to reinforce a permanent ban against the companies’ use of Facebook and Instagram.
Here are more details about each lawsuit.
United States Lawsuit
The lawsuit in the United States is against a company operating a data scraping service, called Massroot8, which has ties to California.
Massroot8 scraped user data from Facebook after its users provided their login information.
This was accomplished by using a computer program to control a network of bots, which were disguised as Android devices connected to the official Facebook app.
It must be noted that this was all done without users’ knowledge. Users of Massroot8 thought they were signing up to a service that allowed them to manage multiple Facebook accounts at once.
Massroot8’s users did not know their login information was being used for the purpose of harvesting data.
Facebook is specifically suing the founder of the company, Mohammad Zaghar, in federal court in San Francisco. Apparently, Zaghar operated sites selling fake likes and follows before starting Massroot8.
Court documents reveal Massroot8 accessed more than 5,500 Facebook accounts. That’s not only a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service, but a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Facebook adds that Massroot8 continued to engage in these activities even after a Cease and Desist order.
Currently, Massroot8’s website is offline, which indicates the company is now taking Facebook’s legal action seriously.
The European lawsuit is against a company based in Spain, called MGP25 Cyberint Services, which operated a fake engagement service selling likes and comments.
Fewer details are available about this company, but it appears to be rather small in comparison to Massroot8.
According to a company profile, MGP25 Cyberint Services generates less than $100,000 in annual revenue:
“MGP25 CYBERINT SERVICES SL. is located in MADRID, Spain and is part of the Computer & Office Equipment Wholesalers Industry. MGP25 CYBERINT SERVICES SL. has 2 total employees across all of its locations and generates $77,000 in sales (USD).”
This goes to show Facebook is willing to take legal action against any company violating its Terms of Service, no matter how big or small it may be.
Facebook’s Recent History of Lawsuits
Facebook has been filing an inordinate amount of lawsuits lately in a concerted effort to prove it can be trusted to enforce its own Terms of Service.
In a press release regarding a lawsuit back in April, Jessica Romero, Facebook’s director of platform enforcement and litigation, stated:
“By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services.”
Facebook has stayed true to its word, filing 6 lawsuits related to fraudulent activity so far in 2020 (including these two).
Previously, Facebook took a less confrontational approach of sending Cease and Desist letters, or simply banning companies from using its services.
Now, Facebook is serious about preserving the integrity of its network in the form of litigation against bad actors.
Expect more lawsuits like this before the year is over.
Source: Facebook Newsroom