Facebook, Instagram Fall Prey to Data Scraping; Indict Chinese Company

Facebook, Instagram Fall Prey to Data Scraping; Indict Chinese Company
Logos of social networks Facebook and Instagram on the screens of a tablet and a mobile phone in a file photo. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)

Meta Platforms, Inc prosecuted Octopus Data, the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese national high-tech enterprise Shenzhen Vision Information Technology Co.

Octopus Data allegedly offered data scraping services for Facebook and Instagram.

Meta also prosecuted a Turkey-based individual, Ekrem Ateş, for allegedly setting up automated Instagram accounts to scrape data from 350,000 Instagram users.

Octopus allegedly charges its customers to access a software product called Octoparse to launch scraping attacks. Customers could also pay Octopus to scrape websites directly.

Customers had to give access to their accounts, allowing the software to glean data usually only available to logged-in users, including Facebook friends, email addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, and Instagram followers.

Octoparse is not limited to Meta's properties, either, with services offered across numerous sites, including Twitter Inc, Alphabet Inc YouTube, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp LinkedIn.

The case follows less than three months after a U.S. court reaffirmed an earlier ruling that web-scraping is legal, TechCrunch reports.

The verdict followed a long-standing legal battle between LinkedIn and a data science company, Hiq Labs, which scraped personal information from LinkedIn to help its customers predict employee attrition.

Previously, a Chinese software developer sifted Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Taobao shopping website for eight months and secretly collected over 1.1 billion pieces of user information.

By Anusuya Lahiri
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