Facebook Sues New Zealand Company for Selling Fake Engagement Services to Instagram Users

On Thursday, April 25, 2019, Facebook, Inc.  and Instagram, LLC filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Social Media Series Limited, a New Zealand company, and three other individual defendants for selling fake engagement services to Instagram users. The complaint alleges that the defendants sold fake likes, views, and followers to Instagram users as a service. Facebook and Instagram suspended the defendants’ accounts and then warned them formally, in writing, to notify defendants that they were violating Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines. The defendants continued to violate Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, which resulted in the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that the defendants “interfered and continue to interfere with Instagram’s service, create an inauthentic experience for Instagram users, and attempt to fraudulently influence Instagram users for their own enrichment.” Facebook and Instagram seek to prevent the defendants from the following: (1) selling fake likes views, and followers on Instagram; (2) violating Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines; and (3) violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, along with other California laws, even after defendants had their access revoked and their accounts suspended.

Facebook and Instagram seek injunctive relief along with compensatory, punitive, and exemplary damages. According to the complaint, the “[d]efendants unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of Facebook and Instagram in the amount of approximately $9,430,000.”

Additional Reading

Preventing Inauthentic Behavior on Instagram, Facebook Newsroom (April 25, 2019)

Facebook Inc. et al v. Nollen et al, Case No. 3:19-cv-02262 (April 25, 2019)