IT'S SAID THAT history has a habit of repeating itself, but not usually this quickly. That's the kind of innovation Silicon Valley is known for though, and Facebook has acted pretty publically to snuff out something that certainly has Cambridge Analytica-style vibes about it.
Zuck & Co is suing South Korean analytics firm Rankwave for allegedly misusing app data for the purpose of targeting adverts. As well as allegedly helping businesses with Facebook authorisation apps which could siphon off user data, the company is also reported to have used data from its fun and frivolous "social influence score" app for business purposes, rather than improving the app's performance. Both of these are big no-nos in Facebook's eyes.
Of course, the sense of deja vu only goes so deep. For one thing, Facebook has tightened its policies, only allowing apps to take data from direct users. That may sound like how things should be, but until 2015, Facebook let apps dip into friends' data as well. For another, there doesn't seem to be the same political edge here.
The suit, seen by TechCrunch, suggests Rankwave was extremely evasive when Facebook began its investigation in 2018 following a company takeover. After missing a deadline to respond in January, Facebook sent a cease-and-desist letter and Rankwave replied to this by saying it needed more time after the CTO resigned. Facebook stated it was urgent, and Rankwave then denied having had access to its apps since 2018, which is something Facebook claims isn't true.
After ignoring another deadline extension in March, Facebook has gone the legal route, as well as suspending the account and apps. Facebook wants the court to force Rankwave to respond to requests for proof and to delete "any and all" data to comply with its policies. There's also compensation involved, because it's a court case and if there's one thing Facebook needs more of, it's money.
Of course, something that Facebook actually needs is good PR, which is presumably why it popped a newsroom post up boasting of it going after the baddies who misuse its angelic social network for evil.
"By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message to developers that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation," Jessica Romero, the company's director of platform enforcement and litigation wrote.
If only there was another way for Facebook to send a message to its developers. Like Facebook Messenger, maybe. µ
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