Facebook files lawsuit against App developers who collect user data and sell fake Instagram likes

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Facebook files two lawsuits in the U.S. and U.K. against App developers who collected Instagram users information illegally and for selling fake likes and followers

Facebook on Thursday launched separate lawsuits in the United Kingdom and the United States against app developers who allegedly used malicious software to collect personal data from unwitting Facebook users. They also allegedly offered services like artificially inflating likes, followers, and other engagement metrics on Instagram.

Facebook said that it had file lawsuits against multiple developers in the U.S. and, for the first time, in the U.K., for violations of its policies. Facebook UK and Ireland are suing MobiBurn, parent company OakSmart Technologies and its founder Fatih Haltas, in the High Court of Justice, London.  for failing to comply with Facebook’s audit request. In the lawsuit, Facebook alleged that MobiBurn was collecting user data from Facebook and other social media companies by paying app developers to install a malicious Software Development Kit (SDK) in their apps.  Once installed, MobiBurn collected information from the devices and requested data from Facebook, including the person’s name, time zone, email address, and gender, explains Facebook, in its announcement of the lawsuit.

Security researchers had alerted Facebook about MobiBurn’s malicious SDKs as a part of the Facebook data abuse bounty program. The Facebook vs MobiBurn petition can be viewed here.

In a separate lawsuit filed in the Federal Court of San Francisco Facebook alleged that a developer named Nikolay Holper was selling fake Instagram likes and followers to buyers. “He used different websites to sell fake engagement services to Instagram users,” Facebook said. Facebook disabled accounts associated with Holper and his service, formally warned him that he was in violation of Facebook and Instagram Terms and conditions, and sent a cease and desist letter. However, Holper allegedly continued with the business of selling likes and followers to interested parties.

Facebook alleges Holper used a network of bots and automation software to “distribute fake likes, comments, views, and followers on Instagram.” Several different websites were used to sell the fake engagement service to Instagram users, the suit says. The Facebook vs Holper petition can be viewed here.

This is the first time Facebook is pursuing a lawsuit against an app developer in the UK.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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