Meta yesterday announced that it will be taking legal action against Voyager Labs, a data-scraping-for-hire company, for “improperly” acquiring information from Instagram and Facebook users. The firm then sold the information to agencies including the Los Angeles Police Department. This is as The Verge Other outlets have noted that the LAPD used the data to create profiles of possible future criminals. Criticisms have been repeated about the methodology and algorithm behind this strategy, which they deem racist, unethical and reductionist.
A report by the Voyager Labs can help you trace back November 2021 to public knowledge about Voyager Labs tactics The GuardianAccording to Thursday’s legal complaint, Meta instigated the wholesale ban on Meta and more than 38,000 false profiles via its social media platforms. Voyager Labs launched several campaigns using a proprietary software program. It also used false accounts from a variety of computer networks in different countries to conceal its activities. Meta says it accumulated “profile information”, photos, comments, friend lists, and posts from more than 600,000. These datasets were later sold to third parties for their own use, including the LAPD.
[Related: Meta will pay $725 million for a single Cambridge Analytica privacy settlement.]
Meta claims that Voyager Labs infringed its Terms of Service, which prohibits fake accounts and allows for unauthorized or automated scraping. According to the lawsuit, Voyager Labs used similar strategies on YouTube, Telegram and Twitter.
Meta spokesperson said that they could not comment on the legal aspect. PopSci.
Even the most powerful tech companies like Meta can find it difficult to deal with situations such as that which was alleged with Voyager Labs. Even though legal cases are often slow, problematic companies may continue to use their illegal strategies, sometimes encouraged by perceived inaction. Meta had previously launched a similar lawsuit against Octopus for acquiring information about over 350,000 Instagram users.
Meta seeks a permanent injunction against the company as well as restitution of “ill-gotten profit in an amount that can be proved at trial.” It does not say if Meta’s victims will be covered in the compensation.