Facebook sues two Chrome extension makers for scraping person records

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Image by skill of Alex Haney

Facebook has filed a lawsuit today time against two companies for creating and distributing malicious browser extensions that scraped person records with out authorization from the Facebook and Instagram web sites.

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

The two companies are within the aid of UpVoice and Commercials Feed, two Chrome extensions on hand on the official Chrome Web Retailer since September and November 2019, where they racked up more than 5,000 and 10,000 installs, respectively.

“BrandTotal enticed customers to install the UpVoice extension from the Google Chrome Retailer by offering funds in commerce for installs, within the make of on-line gift cards, and claiming that the customers who installed the extension was ‘panelists . . . [who] affect the promoting choices and imprint suggestions of multi-billion bucks (sic) companies’,” Facebook talked about in court paperwork filed today time.

UpVoice online page online

“Similarly, Unimania promoted its Commercials Feed extension on the Google Chrome Retailer by claiming that the customers was ‘a panel member of an elite neighborhood community that impacts the promoting choices of multi-billion buck companies!’,” Facebook added.

But Facebook claims that despite their descriptions, both extensions were malicious and designed to jam public and non-public records from customers’ on-line accounts.

In step with court paperwork, Facebook claims the UpVoice extension scraped records from person profiles at Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Similarly, Commercials Feed peaceable records from customers accessing their Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and YouTube profiles, respectively.

Scraped records normally integrated person profile recordsdata (title, person ID, gender, date of beginning, relationship role, and location recordsdata), adverts and promoting metrics (title of the advertiser, image and text of the commercial, and person interplay and reaction metrics), and person Advert Preferences (person commercial curiosity recordsdata) — none of which the firm used to be licensed to hold.

The Menlo Park-based mostly social media big claims that records illegally obtained via the 2 extensions has been re-packaged and supplied as “marketing intelligence” by skill of BrandTotal’s online page online.

Facebook claims the 2 companies are the the same

Facebook says both extensions extinct nearly the same code to jam records from customers and despatched the records aid to the the same distant servers. Essentially, Facebook believes the 2 companies are the the same.

“Defendants shared in model employees and agents,” Facebook defined in its criticism.

“As an illustration, BrandTotal’s Chief Product Officer and General Manager (Ex. 5), created Facebook accounts within the title of Unimania and the Commercials Feed extension. BrandTotal’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder (Ex. 5) also administered Unimania accounts on Facebook.”

Facebook is now wanting for to position a raze to this schem. The social community has requested a shut to a resolution to scenario a eternal injunction against both companies to prevent them from accessing the Facebook and Instagram web sites, block them from organising extra extensions, and has requested for compensatory damages in step with the 2 companies’ previous profits.

Every extensions are easy on hand for web

Yet, in spite of the intensive records scraping habits detected by Facebook, even against Google-owned services, the 2 extensions are easy on hand on the Chrome Web Retailer.

Facebook talked about it tried masses of cases to contain them taken down, but Google has now now not spoke back to its requests.

Unimania, before organising the Commercials Feed extension, used to be previously eager on one other scandal in 2018 when AdGuard stumbled on four of the firm’s Chrome extensions scraping Facebook person records.


Since early 2019, Facebook’s factual department has been submitting lawsuits against several third-parties that contain been abusing its platform. Earlier lawsuits comprise: 

March 2019 – Facebook sues two Ukrainian browser extension makers (Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov) for allegedly scraping person records.

August 2019 – Facebook sues LionMobi and JediMobi, two Android app builders on allegations of marketing click on fraud.

October 2019 – Facebook sues Israeli surveillance supplier NSO Community for organising and promoting a WhatsApp zero-day that used to be extinct in Might presumably 2019 to attack attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and authorities officials.

December 2019 – Facebook sued ILikeAd and two Chinese nationals for utilizing Facebook adverts to trick customers into downloading malware. 

February 2020 – Facebook sued OneAudience, an SDK maker that secretly peaceable records on Facebook customers.

March 2020 – Facebook sued Namecheap, one of the most effective domain title registrars on the discover, to unmask hackers who registered malicious domains via its carrier.

April 2020 – Facebook sued LeadCloak for providing system to veil spurious adverts connected to COVID-19, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, and more.

June 2020 –  Facebook sued to unmask and pick over 12 domains containing Facebook producers and extinct to glide-off Facebook customers.

June 2020 – Facebook sued MGP25 Cyberint Companies and products, a firm that operated an on-line online page online that supplied Instagram likes and comments.

June 2020 – Facebook sued the owner of Massroot8.com, a online page that stole Facebook customers’ passwords.

August 2020 – Facebook sued MobiBurn, the maker of an promoting SDK accused of scraping person records.

August 2020 – Facebook sues the owner of Nakrutka, a online page that supplied Instagram likes, comments, and followers.

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