Obtaining data from a website to create your own is not new, it exists since the Internet is Internet, but there are people who do it en masse.
That’s what developer Ensar Sahinturk, a Turkish citizen who ran a network of Instagram clone sites, did, and now Facebook has sued him.
He apparently used automation software to obtain public profile data, photos and videos of Instagram users from over 100,000 accounts without permission, and this data was then published on his network of websites.
Facebook has known about this illegal network since November 2019, with sites whose names were similar to Instagram’s, such as jolygram.com, imggram.com, imggram.net, finalgram.com, pikdo.net, and ingram.ws. Apparently they had quite a lot of traffic, and surely many of the visitors thought they were on the original Instagram.
Where is the crime here?
Facebook claims to TC that these are trademark violations associated with these domains, that the data was from the Instagram website by automated harvesting, that the developer circumvented Instagram’s security measures against automated tools, that it used more than 7,700 accounts to make automated requests to Facebook servers…
From those sites anyone could see the information of any Instagram username with public profile, with photos, videos, stories, hashtags and location, even offering the possibility to download the content, something that Instagram does not allow.
Prior to the lawsuit, he sent a series of cease and desist letters and closed some Instagram and Facebook accounts that he used for data theft.
He has not yet disclosed how much he is asking for damages, but this is likely an action to intimidate others who might perform a similar operation.