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Facebook sues analytics firm Rankwave over data misuse

Facebook has filed a lawsuit alleging that South Korean data analytics company Rankwave abused its developer platform data and has refused to comply with a mandatory compliance audit, provide compliance proof, and heed requests to delete the data. Facebook’s lawsuit is focused on Rankwave apps for businesses, which tracked and analysed Facebook Pages data, such as public comments and likes on the page. Rankwave created and operated at least 30 consumer and business apps on the Facebook developers platform between 2010 and 2019. Additionally, Rankwave’s consumer app tracked users’ popularity or “social influencer score” on Facebook by analysing the level of interaction that other users had with the app user’s Facebook account. This app ran from March 2012 until March 2018.

Facebook has already suspended apps and accounts associated with Rankwave, said its director of platform enforcement and litigation Jessica Romero. “By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message to developers that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies,” wrote Romero, “including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation.”

Rankwave refuses audit, compliance proof

Rankwave also apparently violated terms of use with Facebook by pulling Facebook Pages data associated with its apps for providing consultancy services to advertisers and marketing companies, instead of using data from its apps only to enhance app experiences. Facebook Platform data is not supposed to be repurposed for other business goals, only for the developer to improve their app’s user experience. Notably, Rankwave had been doing this since at least 2014.

Rankwave did not respond to Facebook requests for proof that it was in compliance with Facebook’s user terms regarding usage of user data for business, and its attempts to determine if any user data was affected. Facebook alleges that Rankwave intentionally delayed responding to a cease-and-desist order and further lied about being in compliance with its terms of use but failed to provide any proof; lied about not accessing any Facebook apps since 2018 when it did so until April 2019; and then ignored the mandatory audit request. The C&D order demanded that Rankwave provide a full account of the Facebook user data it had, identify the parties to which it sold/distributed user data, and delete and destroy all user data. Facebook is now seeking injunctive relief restraining Rankwave from accessing Facebook’s platform, requiring it to delete all Facebook data, and pay monetary damages and legal fees.

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