- Facebook is suing a New Zealand company and three of its directors for allegedly selling fake likes, views, and followers to Instagram users.
- Facebook said in its lawsuit that the company and its directors made at least $US9.4 million from selling fake engagement on Instagram.
- The social network said this creates an “inauthentic experience” for its users and is damaging to Instagram’s brand.
- Facebook has also been cracking down on Instagram accounts that use third-party apps to generate fake likes and followers.
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Facebook is cracking down on fake Instagram likes.
The social network announced it had filed a lawsuit in a US federal court on Thursday, which alleges that a New Zealand company called Social Media Series Limited and three of its directors used different companies and websites to sell fake likes, views, and followers to Instagram users.
This was done through websites that included SocialEnvy.co, IGFamous.net, and Likesocial.co, according to the suit.
“Through their business, Defendants [Social Media Series Limited and its directors] interfered and continue to interfere with Instagram’s service, create an inauthentic experience for Instagram users, and attempt to fraudulently influence Instagram users for their own enrichment,” the lawsuit said.
It continued: “Since July 2018, Defendants unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of Facebook and Instagram in the amount of approximately $US9,430,000.”
Facebook sent cease-and-desist letters to two of the company’s directors in July and December 2018.
According to the lawsuit, Instagram users who wanted to inflate their followers, views, and likes could pay for automatic likes via Social Media Series’ various websites. Fake likes would then appear almost immediately after a customer posted a photograph to Instagram.
The cost to the customer would depend on the number of likes being purchased, ranging from $US10 to $US99 per week, the lawsuit said. In its filing, Facebook gave examples of users who had gained 500 likes within seconds of posting something to Instagram.
Facebook now has multiple lawsuits in the works relating to individuals or companies that sell fake engagement on its social media platforms.
“By filing the lawsuit, we hope to reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated – and that we’ll act forcefully to protect the integrity of our platform,” Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, wrote in a blog post at the time.
In November 2018, Instagram said that it would also be targeting users who were paying for these fake likes.
The industry, in general, has been clamping down on what The New York Times dubbed as “social media’s black market.” The Times’ reporting on this sparked an investigation into a company that was selling likes and followers to celebrities and businesses to boost their status online.
The now-defunct Devumi LLC had more than 200,000 customers in its heyday, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors, and models, all of whom bought followers online. This case was settled in January.
Twitter has also come under scrutiny for having fake accounts on its sites and has been taking steps to remove them.
You can read the lawsuit here:
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