Meta Platforms on Tuesday sued MyStalk, which allows people to anonymously view material posted to Instagram Stories.
In a complaint filed in federal court, Meta alleges that Istanbul resident Ekrem Ates — who Meta says does business as MyStalk — scraped data from the profiles of more than 350,000 Instagram users, published the data on his own sites, and “promoted ‘stalking people’ without their noticing.”
Meta typically makes Instagram Stories viewable for 24 hours and provides people who post the stories with the usernames of viewers.
“Defendant scraped Instagram user data from Meta computers without permission in order to display it on his Instagram ‘clone sites,’” Facebook alleges. The company adds that Ates monetized the service with Google ads.
Meta says it disabled scrapers associated with Ates’ accounts, sent him a cease and desist letter, and requested he deletes all data scraped from Facebook and Instagram.
Ates allegedly told Meta he transferred MyStalk to someone else but didn’t provide information about that person.
“Notwithstanding defendant’s claim that he no longer owned MyStalk, and Meta’s technical enforcement actions, cease and desist letter, and technical anti-scraping measures, the defendant continues to scrape Instagram user data to display on MyStalk as of July 5, 2022,” the complaint alleges.
The company claims in its lawsuit that Ates violated Meta’s terms of service, which prohibit scraping, as well as a California criminal law regarding unauthorized access to computers.
The company is seeking monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting Ates from a host of activities — including accessing Meta’s platforms and distributing data obtained from Facebook or Instagram.