Facebook's lawsuit against an app developer is quite ironic
Kettle, meet pot. Or perhaps we should say, man bites dog. Either way, it symbolizes news announced on Friday by Facebook (via Ars Technica). The company, which faces an FTC fine of $3 billion to $5 billion for allegedly using members' personal data without consent, filed a lawsuit against a company for doing the same thing. The suit was filed this past Friday in California Superior Court for the County of San Mateo against a South Korean company called Rankware.
Rankware is an app developer; the company and its apps have been suspended from Facebook. Despite the suspension, it appears that the company still has in its possession some Facebook user data. In the suit, Facebook asks the court to demand that Rankware delete the user data it obtained and hints that the defendant might have sold this information to other firms. The social networking company says that Rankware refuses to say who it turned over the user data to, and would not "[p]rovide a full accounting of Facebook user data in its possession." The filing adds that while Rankware had agreed contractually to follow Facebook's rules, it "failed to comply with Facebook's requests for proof of Rankwave's compliance with Facebook policies, including an audit."
The filing goes on to note that since 2014, Rankware has been "us[ing] Facebook Pages data associated with its apps for its own business purposes, which include providing consulting services to advertisers and marketing companies." The filing claims that the defendant has generated $9.8 million by selling Facebook members' user data to advertisers. The social networking firm sent a cease and desist letter to Rankware earlier this year, and while the developer said it did not violate Facebook's terms of service and policies, it would not provide any proof of this.
The suit says that Rankware's actions harmed the reputation, public trust and goodwill of Facebook. It seeks an injunction that would prevent Rankware from accessing Facebook's platform, force the South Korean developer to show proof of its compliance, and delete any user data that it obtained in violation of Facebook's rules. Despite asking the court to award it financial damages and any money that Rankware received "unjustly," Facebook says that money isn't enough to make up for the harm caused by Rankware's actions.