Facebook sues 2 app developers for data-stealing browser add-ons

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook on Friday, March 8, filed a lawsuit against two Ukrainian app developers for allegedly using quiz apps in combination with browser add-ons to scrape data from unsuspecting social media users and inject ads onto their News Feeds.

Facebook's lawsuit against Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov alleged that the two were engaged in a long-term scheme affecting some 63,000 Facebook users' browsers.

Between 2016 and 2018, Sluchevsky and Gorbachov were said to have made "fraudulent third-party applications, that they made available on public websites, to deceive users into installing malicious extensions."

The extensions would then take data from social networking sites including Facebook. The extensions were also used to place unauthorized advertisements into app users' News Feeds or locations equivalent to that on other sites.

The lawsuit also said the two developers misrepresented themselves by making accounts under "aliases such as 'Elena Stelmah,' 'Amanda Pitt,' 'Igor Kolomiiets' to register as web application developers with Facebook."

Facebook discovered the scheme after investigating the malicious extensions, adding it took down the suspicious accounts on October 12, 2018. It then alerted browser makers so the malicious extensions could be removed.

The social media giant said the pair's actions caused over $75,000 in damages to Facebook as a result of how much it cost to conduct an investigation, in addition to how the developer's scheme "undermined Facebook’s relationship with its users."

The Verge reported that the news follows Facebook's lawsuit against 4 Chinese companies selling fake accounts and user engagement. – Rappler.com

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.

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