This week, Facebook parent company Meta announced that it is suing the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese company for allegedly scraping the data of Facebook and Instagram users. However, the tech giant’s case could be complicated by the fact that a U.S. court ruled that web scraping is legal less than three months ago.
According to Meta, this scraping firm called Octopus Data violated the platform’s community standards (and user privacy) by trawling for this data. Notably, Octopus collected info not only from users who volunteered it but also their connections on Facebook and Instagram.
“After paying for access to the scraping software, customers self-compromised their Facebook and Instagram accounts by providing their authentication information to Octopus,” Meta wrote in a blog post. “Octopus designed the software to scrape data accessible to the user when logged into their accounts, including data about their Facebook Friends such as email address, phone number, gender and date of birth, as well as Instagram followers and engagement information such as name, user profile URL, location and number of likes and comments per post.”
This could prove to be a tricky case, but Facebook may have a stronger argument because so many of these users didn’t consent to having their data scraped. Time will tell, but at least the company is taking a stand against this invasive practice.
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