On Friday, Facebook and Instagram filed a lawsuit in the U.S. federal court over fake accounts on its platforms.
Facebook and Instagram have sued four companies and three people based in China who promoted the sale of these fake accounts, likes, and followers.
In addition to Facebook and Instagram, these companies sold fake accounts on Amazon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Facebook said. Business Insider has reached out to these companies for comment.
This lawsuit will ask the court to prevent these companies and people from creating and promoting the sale of fake accounts, likes, and followers on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, it will ask the court to stop them from illegally using their trademarks on their websites and from using Facebook-branded domain names to run their websites.
“By filing the lawsuit, we hope to reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated — and that we’ll act forcefully to protect the integrity of our platform,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook wrote in a blog post.
After backlash over the prevalence of fake news and accounts on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook has made moves in removing fake accounts within the U.S. and other countries. Over 600,000 Americans followed fake Instagram and Facebook accounts that were suspected to be linked to Russia. These were detected and removed just days before the 2018 midterms.
In December, Facebook shut down fake news sites that spread false information about the Bangladesh opposition before the country’s elections.
Ahead of India’s elections, Facebook announced it would set up an “online search ad library” and require advertisers to disclose their identity and location for verification.
In January, Facebook announced it took down hundreds of accounts linked to Iran and Russia that spread false information. And just last month, Facebook removed pages and accounts that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting people in Moldova, ahead of the country’s elections.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has also seen its share of fake accounts. In November, Instagram announced it would crack down on accounts that use third-party apps to boost its popularity with fake likes and follows.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has also been cracking down on companies that sell fake followers and likes on social media, such as the now-defunct Devumi LLC and other companies owned by German Calas. This was the U.S.’s first settlement that regards these sales as illegally deceptive, Reuters reported.
“Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform. That’s why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behavior, including disabling millions of fake accounts every day. Today’s lawsuit is one more step in our ongoing efforts to protect people on Facebook and Instagram,” Grewal wrote.