Meta paid the Bright Data company to collect information from e-commerce users, but “did not accept that this information be sold to third parties.”
Meta , the company that owns Facebook , WhatsApp and Instagram, has for years paid data collection company Bright Data in exchange for its web scraping services, while publicly condemning the practice and suing other companies that extract data from their own platforms and social networks.
Web scraping is a technique that uses software programs to extract information from websites , usually by simulating human browsing on the Internet. This activity may or may not be authorized and may pose a risk to the privacy of users when personal information is collected.
The company led by Mark Zuckerberg has denounced this activity and implemented measures to combat scraping, as explained in a statement on its website. In fact, it qualifies the automation to obtain data without permission as a violation of its terms.
In January of this year, Meta continued to address web scraping, announcing that it was taking legal action in the United States to ban the company Voyager Labs from Facebook and Instagram because they were “creating fake accounts and collecting user data.”
In this framework, according to some legal documents to which Bloomberg has had access , Meta had contracts “for years” with the company Bright Data , which offered services such as scraping profile information. He also obtained information on likes, followers, posts, and comments from social media platforms TikTok and Twitter, and from e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.
These documents belong to a lawsuit that Meta filed against the Bright Data company itself for collecting information from Facebook and Instagram and subsequently selling it. Thus, through email correspondence from both companies, it has been possible to confirm that Meta also contracted their services, as explained by Bloomberg .
Meta confirms the procedure, but…
For his part, Meta spokesman Andy Stone confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg that the social media giant had indeed paid Bright Data , but only to “extract data from e-commerce sites.” However, he offered no information on which sites he chose to extract the information.
In addition, according to Stone, they also contracted the services of Bright Data to find “harmful websites” and “phishing operations”. However, the spokesperson stressed that Meta did not use Bright Data to scrape websites of rival companies. Furthermore, he insisted that data collection from websites “can serve legitimate integrity and commercial purposes, if done lawfully and in accordance with the terms of those websites.”
In this sense, after learning that Bright Data was violating Meta ‘s terms by collecting data from Facebook and Instagram, the US company terminated contracts with said company.
Thus, the parent company of Instagram filed the lawsuit on January 6. Among the documents filed are emails from Bright Data CEO Or Lenchener detailing information such as that Meta has long been “a valued customer” of its proxy and scraping services “for at least the last six years”, as Bloomberg has detailed .
Finally, Bright Data has filed a counterclaim in which it requests to continue with the extraction of data from Facebook and Instagram as it highlights its compliance with the regulations of the European Union and the United States. As you explained, it only collects public information that is not protected by login. (Europe Press)