On Tuesday in the Northern District of California, plaintiffs Facebook and Instagram filed a complaint against Sean Heilweil and Jarrett Lusso, doing business as Boostgram, claiming the defendants violated Instagram’s terms and policies through their fake engagement business, which falsely inflates users’ likes and followers on their Instagram accounts.
Instagram asserted that its users “can gain followers, views, and likes, but only from other registered Instagram users.” Instagram noted that some users try to increase followers, views, and comments for marketing purposes to increase visibility and popularity on the platform.
The defendants charge $31 per week per user account for their services, according to the complaint, and use an automated process and bots to artificially increase users’ likes and followers in violations of various terms, policies, and laws. As a result, Instagram claimed that the defendants have violated its terms and policies, while they unjustly enriched themselves.
Instagram also asserted that the defendants committed trademark infringement, which is also against its agreed to terms and policies. In 2014 the defendants registered and used the boostgram.com domain name, which purportedly dilutes the Instagram Trademarks. Instagram averred that its marks predate the defendants’ use of “Boostgram.”
According to Facebook and Instagram, since 2017 they have taken enforcement efforts against the defendants, including sending numerous cease and desist letters and disabling their accounts. These efforts did not work, the defendants continued their operation by creating “at least seven new Instagram accounts in order to access and use Instagram.” Additionally, the defendants allegedly responded that they did not intend to stop their operations or services.
The defendants are accused of violating the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Lanham Act. Facebook and Instagram have sought an award for damages, an accounting and disgorgement of all profits from their alleged illicit service, a permanent injunction, and other relief.
Facebook and Instagram are represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP as well as Facebook’s Platform Enforcement and Litigation team.