A data scraping-for-hire company called Voyager Labs is being sued by Meta for allegedly “improperly” gathering publicly accessible information about Facebook and Instagram users, which it then allegedly sold to organizations like the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Meta made this announcement yesterday.
The LAPD later used the data collection to create profiles of prospective future crimes, as The Verge and other media sources have noted.
The approach and algorithms underlying this tactic have drawn criticism for being discriminatory, immoral, and reductionist.
The Guardian’s article from November 2021 first made Voyager Labs’ strategies known to the public, but Meta only recently banned the company and more than 38,000 phoney user profiles from its social media platforms, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday.
In order to conceal its behavior, Voyager Labs allegedly conducted numerous campaigns using phoney identities dispersed throughout a broad computer network in several nations.
Then, according to Meta, it gathered “profile information, postings, friends lists, images and comments” from more than 600,000 users.
The LAPD, among other customers, afterward purchased those datasets for their own uses.
Voyager Labs allegedly breached Meta’s Terms of Service prohibiting fraudulent accounts as well as unlawful and automated scraping, according to its court action.
According to the lawsuit, Voyager Labs used such tactics on websites like Twitter, Telegram, and YouTube.
“We cannot comment on this aspect of the legal action,” a spokesperson of Meta.
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