Social media giant Facebook today filed a civil lawsuit against a Turkish national for exploiting a network of at least 20 Instagram clones.
According to court documents obtained by ZDNet, Facebook claims defendant Ensar Sahinturk, an Istanbul-based software developer, used automation software running from thousands of Instagram accounts to extract data from over 100,000 Instagram profiles, which he then reposted on its own sites.
Described as “Instagram viewers,” Sahinturk operated at least 20 clone sites where he cataloged Instagram photos and made a profit by running his own ads.
Domains operated by Sahinturk included jolygram.com, imggram.com, imggram.net, finalgram.com, pikdo.net and ingram.ws, according to court documents.
The first domains were created in August 2017, and many sites are still active today.
Facebook said it tried to avoid litigation by sending several cease and desist letters to Sahinturk in early 2019, but to no avail.
In court documents, Facebook said Sahinturk initially denied managing the sites only to admit it later, remove some of the sites, eventually reinstate them months later, and stop responding to subsequent legal letters.
Facebook now wants a US judge to grant it control of the domains on the grounds of trademark infringement, but the company also wants to punish the Turkish developer by asking the judge to approve the return of profits generated from operating the sites.
Besides the obvious violation of Instagram’s terms of service and trademarks, Facebook also claims that the developer has infringed on the privacy of Instagram users by making Instagram data easily accessible online to other users without profiles. Instagram. This included exhibiting information such as images, videos, stories, hashtags, and locations.
Facebook said it has already banned Sahinturk’s Facebook developer account and more than 30,000 other Instagram profiles that it allegedly used to scratch Instagram and were associated with the 20 clone sites.
Since early 2019, Facebook’s legal department has been taking legal action against several third parties who abuse its platform. Previous trials include:
March 2019 – Facebook is suing two Ukrainian browser extension makers (Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachev) for allegedly scraping user data.
August 2019 – Facebook is suing LionMobi and JediMobi, two Android app developers, over claims of click-ad fraud.
October 2019 – Facebook is suing Israeli surveillance provider NSO Group for developing and selling a zero-day WhatsApp that was used in May 2019 to attack lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats and officials of the government.
December 2019 – Facebook sued ILikeAd and two Chinese nationals for using Facebook ads to trick users into downloading malware.
February 2020 – Facebook sued OneAudience, an SDK maker that secretly collected data about Facebook users.
March 2020 – Facebook has sued Namecheap, one of the largest domain name registrars on the internet, to expose hackers who registered malicious domains through its service.
april 2020 – Facebook sued LeadCloak for providing software to hide deceptive ads related to COVID-19, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, etc.
june 2020 – Facebook sued to unmask and take over 12 domains containing Facebook marks and used to scam Facebook users.
june 2020 – Facebook sued MGP25 Cyberint Services, a company that operated an online website that sold Instagram likes and comments.
june 2020 – Facebook sued the owner of Massroot8.com, a website that stole Facebook users’ passwords.
August 2020 – Facebook sued MobiBurn, the maker of an advertising SDK accused of scraping user data.
August 2020 – Facebook is suing the owner of Nakrutka, a website that sells Instagram likes, comments and followers.
October 2020 – Facebook is suing the maker of two Chrome extensions for recovering user data.