Meta sues “scraping-for-hire” service that sells user data to law enforcement

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Meta said it’s suing “scraping-for-hire” service Voyager Labs for allegedly using fake accounts, proprietary software, and a sprawling network of IP addresses to surreptitiously collect massive amounts of personal data from users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

“Defendant created and used over 38,000 fake Facebook user accounts and its Surveillance Software to scrape more than 600,000 Facebook users’ viewable profile information, including posts, likes, friends lists, photos, and comments, and information from Facebook Groups and Pages,” lawyers wrote in Meta’s complaint. “Defendant designed the Surveillance Software to conceal its presence and activity from Meta and others, and sold and licensed for profit the data it scraped.”

“Bringing individuality to light”

Among the California-based Facebook users to have their data scraped, Meta said, were “employees of nonprofit organizations, universities, news media organizations, health care facilities, the armed forces of the United States, and local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as full-time parents, retirees, and union members.” Meta said the data collection and use of fake accounts violate its terms of service.

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