Facebook and Instagram have filed a complaint in the Northern District of California against an individual for creating a network of clone Instagram websites and web viewers that gathered and displayed users’ public profile information through surreptitious means,. creating so-called “clone sites” of the popular social media platform.
According to the filing, Ensar Sahinturk illegally scraped personal information and photos from certain Instagram users’ profiles using non-sanctioned automation software beginning in August 2017. The complaint seeks to halt the defendant’s illegal activity and exact compensatory and punitive damages pursuant to the Lanham Act.
Thursday’s filing alleged that Sahinturk is a resident of Istanbul, Turkey. According to LinkedIn, the filing explains, the defendant is “a software developer and operates various Turkish companies which purport to provide services related to ‘corporate intelligence’ and ‘software solutions.’” Since at least March, the plaintiffs contend, Sahinturk operated at least 20 clone websites displaying data from Instagram, including jolygram.com, pikdo.net, and finalgram.com. The sites are inactive at the time of publication.
The complaint explained that scraping is “a form of data collection that relies on unauthorized automation for the purpose of extracting data from a website or app.” Further, “mobile scraping” utilizes special software that mimics a human user’s tendencies to deliver automated requests for data.
Allegedly, Sahinturk’s automation software “evaded Instagram’s technical restrictions by falsely identifying itself as a legitimate Instagram user’s Android device connected to the official Instagram mobile application … Through this fraudulent connection, Defendant scraped publicly available data from over 100,000 Instagram users and republished it to the clone sites.”
According to a statement published in conjunction with the suit’s filing, Facebook noted that “this case is the latest example of our actions to disrupt those who scrape user data as part of our ongoing commitment to protect our community, enforce our policies and hold people accountable for abusing our services.”
Facebook is represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.