In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been auditing and suspending tens of thousands of apps on its platform. Now, the company is taking legal action against two separate developers for failing to comply with an audit and selling services that inflate Instagram users’ engagement stats, respectively.
In the US, Facebook sued Nikolay Holper, creator of a service called Nakrutka, for using “a network of bots and automation software to distribute fake likes, comments, views and followers on Instagram [and selling] fake engagement services,” Facebook says. Holper was previously warned by Facebook that he was in violation of its terms.
In the UK, meanwhile, Facebook Ireland sued MobiBurn, OakSmart Technologies, and its founder Fatih Haltas. MobiBurn paid app developers to install a malicious software development kit (SDK) in their apps.
“When people installed those apps on their devices, MobiBurn collected information from the devices and requested data from Facebook, including the person’s name, time zone, email address and gender,” Facebook says.
Security analysts alerted Facebook to the company’s actions, and Facebook asked MobiBurn to participate in an audit, but it “failed to fully cooperate,” the social network says.
The MobiBurn case is the first time Facebook has sued an app developer in the UK, it says.
In statement posted on its website, MobiBurn said it first received a cease-and-desist notice from Facebook in November 2019. “Since then MobiBurn has tried to cooperate with Facebook to show that no Facebook user data was subject to unauthorized access or misuse or otherwise improperly handled. In particular, MobiBurn has sought to explain that none of the apps…in the case incorporated the Facebook Login Feature and therefore were technically unable to collect Facebook user data.”
Reports that MobiBurn refused to comply with a Facebook audit “are not accurate,” it says. MobiBurn has instructed its legal team “to prepare a response to Facebook’s claim [and is] committed to seeking to resolve this unnecessary dispute amicably.”
“Today’s actions are the latest in our efforts to protect people who use our services, hold those who abuse our platform accountable, and advance the state of the law around data misuse and privacy,” Facebook says.