Facebook has disabled accounts operated by a Russian business that the social network says scraped user data from its platform.
The Russian company, SocialDataHub, advertises insights through publicly available information. According to Facebook, that includes information gleaned from its users.
“As part of our efforts to protect people’s security, we have recently removed Social Data Hub (SDH), a Russian-linked social media firm, because they were scraping people’s information,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “This is a violation of our terms of service, and we’ve disabled more than 66 of SDH’s accounts, profiles, Pages, and apps from our service — and we expect to find and disable more.”
In a statement, a SocialDataHub representative said that, in some circumstances, they provide “scoring on open data,” which can be found through a Google search. The company said that “no one just downloaded Facebook profiles, especially the data of citizens of other countries, except Russia.” The company added that, in other circumstances, they provide scraping software, but said they do not collect the data themselves.
The representative said the work was legitimate. “We are waiting for the speedy unlocking of our accounts,” the person said.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the social network also sent a cease and desist letter to SocialDataHub. According to CNET, the letter accuses the company of offering services to a range of clients, and says “Facebook has reason to believe your work for the government has included photos from individuals’ personal social media accounts in order to identify them.”
Facebook faced a major scandal earlier this year over Cambridge Analytica, and pledged to work harder to protect its users’ data.
“Scraping of all kinds continues to be a challenge across the internet,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “Since it’s difficult to prevent and often hard to detect once it’s happened, we will be working more closely with other companies and independent experts to share information so we can more quickly disrupt this activity.”