On Thursday, Meta filed a complaint against Voyager Labs, stating that the startup had set up fake Facebook profiles as part of an elaborate plan to gather information from real Facebook users, which it then used for its own commercial gain.

Voyager Labs allegedly created more than 38,000 fake Facebook user identities, according to the document submitted to the District Court for the Northern District of California by Meta.

Meta claimed that Voyager Labs inappropriately collected data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and other websites in order to fuel its software.

These assisted the business in scraping publicly posted data from more than 600,000 additional Facebook users, such as posts, likes, images, and friend lists.

"Scraping" refers to the automated process of employing software to scan a web page and assemble information on it.

In the legal complaint, Meta lawyers stated that the company sent a letter to Voyager Labs on Nov. 11 asking that the startup stop infringing the company's terms of service.

According to the attorneys, Meta eventually disabled over 60,000 Voyager Labs-related Facebook and Instagram accounts and pages, which included at least 38,000 false accounts.

"Defendant's conduct was not authorized by Meta and violates Facebook's and Instagram's terms, as well as California law," the complaint said. "Accordingly, Meta seeks damages and injunctive relief to stop Defendant's use of its platforms and services."

Additionally, the business is requesting that the court order Voyager Labs to forfeit "ill-gotten profits in an amount to be proven at trial."

The data-scraping lawsuit involving LinkedIn and the business startup hiQ, which the Microsoft-owned social network said was harvesting user data to power its human resources software, was followed by Meta's complaint.

Following a mixed decision in a California district court in November, LinkedIn and hiQ finally reached a settlement in December 2022, with a $500,000 verdict against hiQ. This ended a lengthy legal dispute that had lasted for years. Similar to how Meta claimed that hiQ was breaking its terms of service by scraping data, LinkedIn asserted the same thing.

Privacy advocates and experts were concerned that the outcome would jeopardize the work of journalists and watchdog groups who employ automation technologies to monitor public websites and hold firms responsible.

Meta's multiple legal efforts to strengthen data privacy follow the company's infamous Cambridge Analytica controversy in 2018, in which a political consulting firm inappropriately collected user profile data via a variety of means.