This week, Facebook announced legal action against a surveillance company for allegedly creating tens of thousands of fake accounts in order to scrape the data of about 600,000 users. The company, called Voyager Labs, created proprietary software to scrape publicly viewable data including users’ profile info, posts, friends lists, photos and comments.
However, while this information was available for anyone to find, Facebook says that Voyager violated its terms of service by creating fake accounts and scraping data at scale. According to Facebook, the surveillance company also took great care to hide its activity on the platform.
“Companies like Voyager are part of an industry that provides scraping services to anyone regardless of the users they target and for what purpose, including as a way to profile people for criminal behavior,” Meta director of platform enforcement and litigation Jessica Romero wrote in a blog post. “This industry covertly collects information that people share with their community, family and friends, without oversight or accountability, and in a way that may implicate people’s civil rights.”
While Voyager is far from the only company doing this kind of shady thing on Facebook, this is still a step in the right direction for the social media giant when it comes to protecting our privacy.
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