Meta is taking legal action against two prolific data scrapers. On Tuesday, the company against a company called Octopus and an individual named Ekrem Ateş. According to Meta, the former is the US subsidiary of a Chinese multinational tech firm that offers data scraping-for-hire services to individuals and companies.
Octopus also sells software people can use to carry out their own data collection campaigns. According to Meta, this program first compromises the Facebook and Instagram accounts of the user by providing their authentication information to Octopus before proceeding to scrape all the data accessible to that individual’s accounts. The software can then obtain phone numbers, dates of birth and other personal information about every Facebook and Instagram friend connected to a particular Octopus customer. Meta alleges Octopus violated its terms of service and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by offering an automated scraping service and attempting to avoid detection by the company.
“Companies like Octopus are part of an emerging scraping industry that provides automation services to any customer — regardless of who they target and for what purpose they scrape,” Meta said. “This industry makes scraping available to individuals and companies that otherwise would not have the capabilities.”
As for Ekrem Ateş, the individual Meta sued, the company says he used automated Instagram accounts to collect information on more than 350,000 Instagram users and later published that data on a series of where one could view the data of those individuals without their consent. Since the start of 2021, Meta says it has taken multiple enforcement actions against Ateş, including sending him a cease and desist letter and revoking his access to its services. This isn’t the first time Meta has used legal action to try and stop data scraping. In 2020, for instance, the company sued a Turkish national who scraped more than .