Facebook Sues South Korean Data Analytics Company Rankwave

  • Rankwave’s apps breached Facebook’s Development Platform policies, so they have been removed.
  • Facebook is suing Rankwave now, asking for damage compensation and deletion of the collected user data.
  • The company claims this is a message to all app developers who are present on the Facebook platform.

In a move that powerfully reminds us of the Cambridge Analytical scandal, Facebook has filed a lawsuit in California state court, accusing Rankwave of following unacceptable data practices. More specifically, the South Korean analytics company that is one of Facebook’s collaborators is accused of collecting user data without the users’ consent and using the information for advertising and marketing services. Facebook claims that they have tried to stop Rankwave by trying to convince them to allow verification procedures to take place, but the latter refused to comply with the platform’s policies. This has led to the lawsuit and the immediate suspension of any apps run by Rankwave on Facebook.

Rankwave website
Rankwave website

Rankwave’s apps could draw user data such as location check-ins, and then use that data to serve targeted ads. For example, if you checked in the gym, you could potentially get a protein shake advertisement later on. According to Facebook, Rankwave abused the “Development Platform” program that allows apps to interact with users of the social media, with the sole purpose being the collection of the data on false premises. Rankwave agreed to the policies of this platform, but then violated them by using B2B apps that analyzed the online activity of users.

Moreover, Rankwave deceived users by making them think that the apps they were using had a “fun” purpose. For example, one of the tracking, collection, and analysis apps was supposedly helping users to calculate their “social influence score”, by “evaluating their social activities”. By breaching Facebook’s policies, Rankwave has caused the platform to incur damages, so the lawsuit is asking for the awarding of several relief elements.

facebook lawsuit against rankwave
image source: techcrunch.com

The list includes restraining Rankwave from accessing the Facebook platform, conduction of a forensic data audit on the collected user data, deletion of all data, money damages including the actual, consequential, incidental, and exemplary damages, and any attorney fees and cost and expenses relating to the investigation of Rankwave’s misconduct.

As Facebook states on their official blog, this lawsuit is not only about going after Rankwave, but also about making it clear to everybody that they won’t tolerate this type of practice in the platform anymore. As they write: “By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message to developers that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation.”

Do you believe that Facebook is really serious about this, or is this case a publicity stunt? Let us know of your thoughts in the comments section beneath, or discuss this on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.


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