Meta Alleges Surveillance Firm Collected Data On 600,000 Users Via Fake Accounts

Meta has sued to block a surveillance company from using Facebook and Instagram, alleging the firm, which has partnered with law enforcement, created tens of thousands of fake accounts to collect user data.

A complaint filed on Thursday asks a judge to permanently ban Voyager Labs from accessing Meta’s sites and comes after a Guardian investigation revealed the company had partnered with the Los Angeles police department (LAPD) in 2019 and claimed that it could use social media information to predict who may commit a future crime.

Public records obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-profit organization, and shared with the Guardian in 2021, showed that Voyager’s services enabled police to surveil and investigate people by reconstructing their digital lives and making assumptions about their activity, including their network of friends. In one internal record, Voyager suggested that it considered using an Instagram name displaying Arab pride or tweeting about Islam to be signs of potential extremism.

The lawsuit in federal court in California details activities that Meta says it uncovered in July 2022, alleging that Voyager used surveillance software that relied on fake accounts to scrape data from Facebook and Instagram, as well as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Telegram. Voyager created and operated more than 38,000 fake Facebook accounts to collect information from more than 600,000 Facebook users, including posts, likes, friends lists, photos, comments and information from groups and pages, according to the complaint.

The affected users included employees of non-profits, universities,

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