Meta reported that it sued the owner of the cloned website called MyStalk, Ekrem Ates, for creating fraudulently obtaining information from more than 350,000 Instagram accounts using automated software. A cloned web page is a page created by a third party that duplicates, partially or completely, the content of an existing site, as Meta explains in a statement published on its website. These sites can be used to post fraudulently extracted personal data without users’ consent, as well as to scam users or damage the credibility of the original site.
To collect this information, the cloned sites often use pages and applications that offer ‘likes’, followers or other types of rewards to users in exchange for their Facebook or Instagram credentials.
With the aim of eradicating these fraudulent practices, Meta launched a tracking program that it has applied to more than 100 cloned Instagram websites and with which it has managed to reduce this type of website by approximately 90 percent. Despite the efforts of the platform, these cloned websites persist and continue to be present on the internet. This has been the case of a page known as MyStalk, whose owner, Ekrem Ates, has received a lawsuit from the company.
Specifically, the company accuses him of having used unauthorized automation ‘software’ to illegally access and collect Instagram user profiles.
According to Meta, the MyStalk ‘software’ used thousands of automated accounts that falsely identified themselves as legitimate users on Instagram connected through the mobile app and from the web. In this way, Ates would have stolen the data of more than 350,000 accounts of the social network , along with their publications, photos, ‘stories’ and profile information that had not been configured as private by users. Once extracted from their corresponding legitimate accounts, this user posted the information on their own cloned websites.
To put an end to this activity, Meta has indicated that since 2021 it has been taking a series of measures against the defendant. Among other actions, it has disabled their accounts, sent a cease and desist letter, and revoked Ates’ access to Meta’s services. On the other hand, Meta recalled that, in 2020, it already filed a lawsuit against Ensar Sahinturk for carrying out similar actions and collecting data from Instagram users to create another network of cloned web pages.
Zuckerberg’s company then alleged that the defendant violated its policy of conditions of use of the service. As a result, the US court found him guilty as charged and he was sentenced to pay more than $200,000. In addition, access to the company’s social networks, Meta and Instagram, was banned. Finally, Meta has accompanied this statement with a series of recommendations aimed at protecting personal accounts , as well as the information of the users that appear in them.
One of them is to review the privacy settings regularly so that users are aware that they are maintained in accordance with their usage preferences. Another is to know in detail the safety tips on the Facebook and Instagram help pages. The platform also advises the use of its ‘Privacy Checkup’ function, which allows the user to be guided through privacy and security settings, such as those that regulate who can see and share their content and how they can be tracked on Facebook.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.