Washington – Facebook is suing a company and three individuals, based in New Zealand, over allegations they sold fake likes, views and followers to users of its photo-sharing platform Instagram, it said on Friday.
“However their activity persisted.
“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,’’ Facebook said in a statement.
The company claimed that the defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in a U.S. federal court, profited from a service which sold fake engagement services to Instagram users.
Users with large numbers of followers are often able to attract lucrative sponsorship deals and sell products on their platform if they are considered to be influencers.
In 2018, Instagram said it would step up its efforts against users artificially increasing their follower numbers as Facebook dealt with the aftermath of a number of scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing one.
The company has also been removing pages, groups and accounts showing “inauthentic behaviour’’ in countries including the Philippines, Russia and Iran.
It followed accusations that the platform played a role in influencing 2016’s U.S. presidential election and Brexit referendum.