Facebook Inc. and Facebook Ireland have filed a legal action in Portugal against two people for scraping user-profiles and other data from Facebook’s website, in violation of its Terms of Service and Portugal’s Database Protection Law.
Malicious Chrome Extensions Target Facebook Users
The defendants developed browser extensions and made them available on the Chrome store using the business name “Oink and Stuff,” software company specialized in creating Android apps and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge.
As the company develops a wide array of browser extensions, Facebook said in four extensions namely Web for Instagram plus DM, Blue Messenger, Emoji keyboard, and Green Messenger were malicious and contained hidden computer code that functioned like spyware.
Scraping is a form of data collection that relies on unauthorized automation to extract data from a website or app.
Facebook noted that, when people installed these extensions on their browsers, they were installing concealed code designed to scrape their information from the Facebook website, but also information from the users’ browsers unrelated to Facebook, all without their knowledge.
Upon visiting the Facebook website, the browser extensions were programmed to scrape the user’s name, user ID, gender, relationship status, age group and other information related to their account.
Since early 2019, Facebook’s legal department has been filing lawsuits against several third-parties that have been abusing its platform.
In this case, Facebook at present asking a Portuguese judge to issue a permanent injunction against the Oink and Stuff team and force the company to delete all the Facebook user data they acquired through the four extensions.
The defendants did not compromise Facebook’s security systems. Instead, they used the extensions on the users’ devices to collect information, said Jessica Romero.