Facebook takes legal action against bots in intercontinental clampdown

By Lucy Ingham

Facebook has taken legal action by filing two lawsuits today, one in Europe and one in the US, against companies using bots to abuse its services on Facebook and Instagram.

The European lawsuit, filed in Spain, is being filed by both Facebook Inc. and Facebook Ireland against MGP25 Cyberint Services, which provides a bot-based system that enables users to pay for fake likes and comments on Instagram.

Facebook said the service “was designed to evade Instagram’s restrictions against fake engagement by mimicking the official Instagram app” and that the company was not only profiting from the service, but ignored a cease-and-desist letter on the matter.

Meanwhile, the US lawsuit, filed in San Francisco by Facebook Inc., is against Massroot8, a data scraping service that encouraged users to input their Facebook login details on the company’s website, before using bots to scrape considerable data from users’ accounts. Massroot8 also ignored a cease-and-desist letter.

Facebook legal action seeks permanent ban for bot operators

The choice to take legal action via two lawsuits filed in different parts of the world by Facebook has been characterised by the social media company as an unusual and bold move.

“This is one of the first times a social media company is using coordinated, multi-jurisdictional litigation to enforce its Terms and protect its users,” the company wrote.

Its goal is to get the companies permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram via an injunction, having failed to get either to stop by disabling their accounts.

“Today’s legal actions demonstrate our commitment to enforcing our policies and holding people accountable for abusing our services,” the company said.

It follows a lawsuit filed in California by Facebook in February against data analytics company OneAudience, in which Facebook accused the company of improperly accessing and collecting user data via a malicious software development kit.

Writing on the lawsuit, Facebook’s director of platform enforcement and litigation Jessica Romero vowed to take similar action against other companies that “abuse the technology industry and users”.

“Through these lawsuits, we will continue sending a message to people trying to abuse our services that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation, and advance the state of the law when it comes to data misuse and privacy.”

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