Facebook’s parent company Meta has instigated legal action against a man who scraped and published profile data from over 350,000 Instagram accounts, according to a statement from the company.

The social media giant filed two separate federal lawsuits — one against the site cloner, Ekrem Ateş, and the second against data-scraping company Octopus — on Tuesday, 5 July 2022.

Meta found that Ateş, based in Turkey, had used automated Instagram accounts to scrape data from the profiles of over 350,000 Instagram users.

Ateş then published the data on his own “clone sites”, where people could view the profile data without owner consent.

Octopus is a subsidiary of a Chinese high-tech enterprise with more than one million customers, and it offers scraping services and software that its clients can use to pull data from any website.

“Companies like Octopus are part of an emerging scraping industry that provides automation services to any customer — regardless of who they target and for what purpose they scrape,” Meta said.

“This industry makes scraping available to individuals and companies that otherwise would not have the capabilities.”

Its clients can scrape web applications from its cloud platform or enlist Octopus to scrape websites directly.

According to Facebook, those who use Octopus’ software compromise their accounts as they have to provide their login credentials to the company.

The software is designed to scrape data from profiles that are only accessible from signed-in accounts.

Data pulled comes from friends lists and Instagram followers and includes email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and gender.

As a result, the social media giant is taking legal action against Ateş and Octopus to expose these services and protect its users.