Facebook sues two Chrome extension makers for scraping user data

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Symbol by means of Alex Haney

Fb has filed a lawsuit lately towards two firms for developing and distributing malicious browser extensions that scraped consumer knowledge with out authorization from the Fb and Instagram web sites.

Named within the lawsuit are BrandTotal Ltd., an Israeli-based corporate with a Delaware subsidiary, and Unimania Inc., included in Delaware.

The 2 firms are in the back of UpVoice and Advertisements Feed, two Chrome extensions to be had at the authentic Chrome Internet Retailer since September and November 2019, the place they racked up greater than five,000 and 10,000 installs, respectively.

“BrandTotal enticed customers to put in the UpVoice extension from the Google Chrome Retailer by way of providing bills in alternate for installs, within the type of on-line reward playing cards, and claiming that the customers who put in the extension was ‘panelists . . . [who] have an effect on the promoting choices and logo methods of multi-billion greenbacks (sic) companies’,” Fb mentioned in courtroom paperwork filed lately.

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UpVoice site

“In a similar way, Unimania promoted its Advertisements Feed extension at the Google Chrome Retailer by way of claiming that the customers was ‘a panel member of an elite neighborhood staff that affects the promoting choices of multi-billion buck companies!’,” Fb added.

However Fb claims that in spite of their descriptions, each extensions had been malicious and designed to scrape public and private knowledge from customers’ on-line accounts.

In line with courtroom paperwork, Fb claims the UpVoice extension scraped knowledge from consumer profiles at Fb, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

In a similar way, Advertisements Feed gathered knowledge from customers gaining access to their Fb, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and YouTube profiles, respectively.

Scraped knowledge in most cases incorporated consumer profile knowledge (title, consumer ID, gender, date of beginning, dating standing, and site knowledge), commercials and promoting metrics (title of the advertiser, symbol and textual content of the commercial, and consumer interplay and response metrics), and consumer Advert Personal tastes (consumer commercial pastime knowledge) — none of which the corporate used to be approved to own.

The Menlo Park-based social media large claims that knowledge illegally obtained in the course of the two extensions has been re-packaged and bought as “advertising and marketing intelligence” by means of BrandTotal’s site.

Fb claims the 2 firms are the similar

Fb says each extensions used nearly equivalent code to scrape knowledge from customers and despatched the knowledge again to the similar faraway servers. Actually, Fb believes the 2 firms are the similar.

“Defendants shared not unusual staff and brokers,” Fb defined in its grievance.

“For instance, BrandTotal’s Leader Product Officer and Common Supervisor (Ex. five), created Fb accounts within the title of Unimania and the Advertisements Feed extension. BrandTotal’s Leader Generation Officer and co-founder (Ex. five) additionally administered Unimania accounts on Fb.”

Fb is now in the hunt for to position a forestall to this schem. The social community has requested a pass judgement on to factor an everlasting injunction towards each firms to forestall them from gaining access to the Fb and Instagram web sites, block them from creating additional extensions, and has requested for compensatory damages in response to the 2 firms’ earlier earnings.

Each extensions are nonetheless to be had for obtain

But, regardless of the intensive knowledge scraping habits detected by way of Fb, even towards Google-owned products and services, the 2 extensions are nonetheless to be had at the Chrome Internet Retailer.

Fb mentioned it attempted a large number of instances to have them taken down, however Google has no longer spoke back to its requests.

Unimania, sooner than creating the Advertisements Feed extension, used to be prior to now excited by some other scandal in 2018 when AdGuard discovered 4 of the corporate’s Chrome extensions scraping Fb consumer knowledge.


Since early 2019, Fb’s felony division has been submitting court cases towards a number of third-parties which have been abusing its platform. Earlier court cases come with: 

March 2019 – Fb sues two Ukrainian browser extension makers (Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov) for allegedly scraping consumer knowledge.
August 2019 – Fb sues LionMobi and JediMobi, two Android app builders on allegations of promoting click on fraud.
October 2019 – Fb sues Israeli surveillance dealer NSO Staff for creating and promoting a WhatsApp zero-day that used to be utilized in Might 2019 to assault legal professionals, reporters, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and govt officers.
December 2019 – Fb sued ILikeAd and two Chinese language nationals for the use of Fb advertisements to trick customers into downloading malware. 
February 2020 – Fb sued OneAudience, an SDK maker that secretly gathered knowledge on Fb customers.
March 2020 – Fb sued Namecheap, probably the most greatest area title registrars on the net, to unmask hackers who registered malicious domain names thru its carrier.
April 2020 – Fb sued LeadCloak for offering instrument to cloak misleading advertisements associated with COVID-19, prescribed drugs, fat burners, and extra.
June 2020 –  Fb sued to unmask and take over 12 domain names containing Fb manufacturers and used to rip-off Fb customers.
June 2020 – Fb sued MGP25 Cyberint Products and services, an organization that operated an internet site that bought Instagram likes and feedback.
June 2020 – Fb sued the landlord of Massroot8.com, a site that stole Fb customers’ passwords.
August 2020 – Fb sued MobiBurn, the maker of an promoting SDK accused of scraping consumer knowledge.
August 2020 – Fb sues the landlord of Nakrutka, a site that bought Instagram likes, feedback, and fans.

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