Facebook is suing a New Zealand company who sold fake likes, shares and followers on Instagram.
The social media giant alleges Social Media Series Limited has ignored requests to discontinue selling false engagement through external sites. The lawsuit asks a U.S. court to halt the company’s actions and award damages to Facebook.
According to the lawsuit, the company has been selling social media bots since mid-2015. Facebook sent them a cease and desist notice in early 2018, prompting the shut down of their original sites. Despite this, they continued operating under a different name even after having accounts banned and “millions of artificial likes” stopped.
Users of their service were able to purchase 50 to 2000 fake Instagram likes for $10 to $99 per week. Facebook estimates the company made roughly $9.4 million through their operation.
The lawsuit’s main claim is that the group violated Facebook and Instagram’s terms of service. It further argues though that they violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by inflating customer’s engagement numbers.
The CFAA’s purpose is to prevent computer intrusion and Facebook is looking to use that definition to its limits. Twitch similarly used the CFAA in a 2016 suit against companies using bots on their service.
This is the second time Facebook has filed a lawsuit regarding bot accounts. Last month the company sued several Chinese organizations selling likes and followers across their platforms.
Facebook is claiming this is another step in their ongoing process to prevent inauthentic behaviour on their various websites.
While the company is trying to gain trust from people through moves like this, they’ve faced numerous internal issues. Millions of Instagram passwords were exposed to employees and they’ve also experienced numerous site crashes this year.
At the beginning of the year, Facebook even reported more than half of its users could be fake.
What do you think of Facebook’s move to sue companies selling bots?