The creator of a data harvesting website has been sued by Facebook, Inc. for collecting and transmitting users’ data without authorization. Mohamed Zaghar allegedly operated a “mobile scraping” service which offered its users “the ability to scrape their Facebook friends’ contact information,” including email addresses and birth dates. Mobile scraping is a method of extracting data from mobile applications through fraudulent connections. Filed on Thursday, this case is being held in the Northern District of Texas before Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler.
Zaghar’s website, massroot8.com, required customers to link their Facebook accounts to use the service, which offered to collect their friends’ personal information. The service would “send automated requests to Facebook as if a human user was logging into the Facebook app.” To convince individuals to provide their Facebook login credentials, Zaghar allegedly used a program designed to emulate Facebook’s official Android app. According to the complaint, “Between April 23, 2020 and May 6, 2020, Zaghar’s service used approximately 5,500 Facebook users’ credentials to obtain, through automated means, their Facebook Friends’ [personal information].”
Massroot8.com was not Zaghar’s first scraping website, according to the complaint. In the summer of 2018, he was accused of operating several others, including fast-autolikers.com and fast-liker.com. Zaghar allegedly shut them down after receiving cease and desist letters from Facebook, but he quickly returned to scraping with the massroot8.com website October 2018. The company claims to have suffered damages “in excess of $75,000” as a result of Zaghar’s conduct.
Facebook seeks an award of punitive damages and “an injunction restraining Zaghar from accessing” the website. The plaintiff is represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth.