Facebook is suing a New Zealand company for US$9.4m ($14.1m) in a California Court, claiming that it sold fake followers on Instagram, which is owned by the social network.
The action was announced in a post today by Facebook Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation Jessica Romero.
The post does not name the company, but a rep for Facebook has told the Herald that it is Social Media Series - has three director shareholders: Arend Alexander Hubert Nollen of Upper Hutt, Leon Francis Hedges of Upper Hutt and David James Pekka Pasanen of Lower Hutt. Its registered business address is a private home.
The defendants operated a service that provided fake likes, views and followers to Instagram users, Romero alleges.
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But those efforts didn't stop the bot schemes, which racked up an estimated US$9,430,000 in "ill-gotten profits," the social media giants claimed.
Facebook and Instagram want the defendants banned from Instagram, forced to pay back the nearly US$9.4m sum and pay unspecified additional damages. They are also seeking costs.
"By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services, and we will act to protect the integrity of our platform."