Facebook Files a Lawsuit Against a Ukrainian National for Allegedly Scraping and Selling the Personal Data of 178M+ Users
In April, Facebook filed a lawsuit against a Ukrainian national named Arkadiy Terser and his company, New Knowledge AI for scraping user data from the site and selling it on the secondary market. This isn’t the first time that Facebook has taken legal action against people who have scraped user data from its site. In fact, in recent years, Facebook has filed at least three other lawsuits against companies that scrape and sell user data. Let’s take a look at this latest lawsuit to see what we can learn about scrapers and sellers of personal data. Keep reading to find out if you could be at risk of being sued by Facebook or another company like it in the future.
What is Scraping?
At its core, scraping is the process of copying and collecting information from websites. The scrapers don’t add any original content to the site, but they collect data from the webpages and save it for their own use. There are many different ways to scrape data from a site, but all of them require either hacking the site or using a special software program to extract the data from the site. Many legitimate companies use scraping to collect data from sites. For example, data aggregators like Nielsen collect data from thousands of different sites to produce ratings and analytics for TV shows, movies, and more.
However, while these are legitimate businesses, Facebook doesn’t like it when people scrape their site. There are a few reasons that the company has a policy against scraping. First, scraping can slow down the site and make it less enjoyable to use. When a site is scraping data, it generally has to send a request to the server for every page on the site. The server then has to send back the page and the scraper has to save it somewhere. This is a slow process and can make the site run slower for everyone else who is on it.
Why Does Facebook Sue Scrapers?
To understand why Facebook might be taking a more aggressive stance against scrapers, it’s important to understand how scrapers make money. Generally speaking, scrapers are trying to sell the data that they collect to people who want access to it. Scrapers who sell their data to brokers might try to anonymize the data so that the broker can’t trace it back to the source. However, it’s incredibly easy for brokers to de-anonymize that data. This is because the only truly anonymous data on the internet is static, unchangeable data.
Data that you are actively updating is still traceable because you have to send it from one computer to another. If you collect data from Facebook and save it on your computer, there’s a record of the time and IP address that it was sent. The same is true if you send the data over the internet. That means that there’s a chance that a large company like Facebook can trace the data back to you.
What Can You Learn From This Lawsuit?
There are a few important lessons that you can learn from this lawsuit. First, if you are scraping data from Facebook, you need to be aware that there’s a chance that Facebook will notice and take action against you. The company has a team dedicated to finding people scraping their site and shutting them down. Beyond that, this lawsuit raises some concerns about how Facebook uses your data. It’s clear from this lawsuit that Facebook is moving toward an advertising model that relies more on data from other sources than just its own site. That means that if you use Facebook, you might be signing away your data. And unfortunately, there might be little you can do about it.
What’s Next for Facebook and Its Users?
It’s hard to know exactly where this lawsuit and others like it will go. However, it’s likely that we’ll see Facebook continue to be aggressive toward scrapers. The company already has a team dedicated to ferreting out scrapers and shutting them down as quickly as possible. At the moment, we don’t know if this lawsuit will affect the way that Facebook uses your data. However, many Facebook users are concerned that the company is gathering too much data on its users and that it isn’t being responsible with it. If you’re nervous about Facebook’s data collection practices, the best thing you can do is review the data that the company has on you. You can do that by heading to your Facebook settings and clicking “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
This lawsuit between Facebook and a scraper named Arkadiy Terser is just one example of the kind of legal issues that could arise when a website or social media platform collects personal information from its users. These platforms have an obligation to protect their users’ information, but they also need to use it to generate revenue. It’s a tricky balance, and as this case shows, it’s not always achieved. However, this lawsuit also provides an opportunity for Facebook users to review the data that the company has on them and decide if they’re comfortable with how it’s being used.