Facebook Sues Devs of Alleged Data-Scraping Chrome Extensions

Facebook is suing two European developers for allegedly violating its terms of service by scraping user data.

Legal action has been filed in Portugal by Facebook and Facebook Ireland against two individuals working for application/extension development company Oink and Stuff.

The firm claims its software products, available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and Android, have over one million active users.

However, the two misled users into downloading their Chrome extensions by claiming in a privacy policy that they did not collect any personal information, alleged Facebook director of platform enforcement and litigation, Jessica Romero.

She highlighted four extensions, Web for Instagram plus DM, Blue Messenger, Emoji keyboard and Green Messenger, that contained code which Facebook claims are malicious and effectively act like spyware.

“When people installed these extensions on their browsers, they were installing concealed code designed to scrape their information from the Facebook website, but also information from the users’ browsers unrelated to Facebook — all without their knowledge,” argued Romero.

“If the user visited the Facebook website, the browser extensions were programmed to scrape their name, user ID, gender, relationship status, age group and other information related to their account. The defendants did not compromise Facebook’s security systems. Instead, they used the extensions on the users’ devices to collect information.”

Facebook is seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants, demanding they delete all Facebook data in their possession.

This is just one of many cases brought by the social network against third parties it accuses of impacting user privacy, a push that began in earnest following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In September 2019, the firm revealed it had filed suits against LionMobi and JediMobi, two companies that used apps to infect users’ devices with click injection fraud malware, South Korean data analytics firm Rankwave and Ukrainians Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov, who used quiz apps to scrape user data.

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