Facebook sues programmer who allegedly scraped data for 178 million users

Facebook has taken legal action to address another massive data theft. According to The Record the social network has filed a lawsuit against Alexander Solonchenko, a Ukrainian national, for allegedly scraping data from more than 178 millions users. Solonchenko used Messenger's contact import function to create an automated tool that looked like Android devices. He provided Facebook with millions of phone numbers, and collected data every time the site returned information on accounts that had phone numbers.
According to the attacker, the campaign was conducted between January 2018 and September 2019, when Facebook closed down the importer. He then began selling the product on a black marketplace forum in December 2020. After Solonchenko used his forum username, contact information for email and job boards, Facebook identified him. According to Facebook, Solonchenko has also accessed data from other targets such as a large Ukranian bank.

Facebook demanded unspecified damages and bans to stop Solonchenko accessing Facebook or selling its scraped information.

This is not the most serious incident of its kind. Through the same feature, hackers accessed data from 533 million users. This shows that Facebook is determined to stop data scraping and will pursue hackers in civil court to discourage similar data theft campaigns.