Social networking giant Facebook, in order to “protect the integrity” of its platform, has sued a New Zealand based fraud company that sold authentic likes, views and followers for Instagram posts and accounts for an undisclosed amount.
Facebook estimates that the company, Social Media Series Limited, run by Arend Nollen, Leon Hedges and David Pasanen, earned around $9.4 million through such social media bot operations, that allowed users to buy between 50 and 2,000 fake Instagram likes for between $10 and $99 per week, The Verge reported on Friday.
The lawsuit calls for the defendants to be prevented from engaging in and profiting from the sale of fake likes, views and followers on Instagram. It wants their profits to be forfeited, along with damages and costs, reported Forbes.
"By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services, and we will act to protect the integrity of our platform," Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.
Facebook says, previously it has not only warned the New Zealand-based company about their violations in writing but also suspended accounts associated with the firm, despite which the company continued their illegal practices using a fake company name.
"Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform. That's why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behaviour, including blocking the creation and use of fake accounts, and using machine learning technology to proactively find and remove inauthentic activity from Instagram," Romero added.
In March, Facebook sued many Chinese companies, that were found to have been selling likes and followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms, The Verge added.
(With inputs from agencies)