Facebook has announced that it has taken legal action against a man for selling fake Instagram followers. In a company blog post, Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, noted the company’s commitment to enforce its Terms of Service.
Facebook has filed two separated lawsuits, in the U.K. and the U.S., against and app developer as reported by Pocket Now. The company has also sought an audit and an injunction. This is to reinforce the developer’s ban on the platform.
The social media company will be happy to show off its proactive work to enforce Terms of Service. Recently, it has been under a lot of pressure for its actions in this area. Most negative press has surrounded misinformation, which the company is still struggling to crack down on. Facebook has also recently come under fire once again for its use of biometrics data.
Man selling fake Instagram followers sued by Facebook
Facebook and Instagram sued Nikolay Holper for operating a fake engagement service known as Nakrutka. This occurred in a federal court in San Francisco.
Holper used bots and automation software to distribute fake likes, comments, views and followers on Instagram. He also used a variety of websites to sell fake engagement services to Instagram users.
Facebook had previously disabled accounts and services linked to Holper. The company formally warned him and sent a cease and desist letter.
Separate lawsuit into malicious software downloads
In another lawsuit, Facebook sued MobiBurn, OakSmart Technologies and its founder Fatih Haltas. Facebook took the action in the High Court of Justice for failing to fully comply with our audit request.
This was after MobiBurn collected user data by paying app developers to install a malicious Software Development Kit. When users downloaded the software it collected personal data including the person’s name, time zone, email address and gender.
Security researchers flagged the issue as part of a data abuse bounty program. Facebook claims it took swift action by disabling the relevant apps, sending a cease and desist letter, and requesting MobiBurn’s participation in an audit.
This is all in line with Facebook’s Terms of Service. However, MobiBurn failed to fully cooperate hence the legal action that Facebook has taken.
Overall, it is good to see Facebook taking meaningful action against those that violate its Terms of Service. Cynically, this could be seen as a bit of a PR exercise to demonstrate Facebook’s commitment to action.
However, even in the context of Facebook’s past, these are still a positive move. Hopefully, this strong action will deter others from running similar schemes on the platform.