At the weekend Facebook announced that it had filed a lawsuit against South Korean data analytics firm Rankwave.
Facebook says the firm “failed to cooperate with our efforts to verify their compliance with our policies” and it is now forced to file a lawsuit.
The firm’s apps have been suspended as have accounts associated with Rankwave.
Good news then right? We can all go home and rest assured Facebook has our backs right?
A report by TechCrunch reveals that Rankwave built a Facebook authorisation into a business’ app which would pass data to Rankwave. With this data, Rankwave could determine all manner of things such as whether you attended a sports game. This data would in turn be used by clients to target advertising at users.
In case it wasn’t clear, this is a violation of Facebook’s policies and terms which state very clearly that users must consent to having their data used by apps or companies.
“By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message to developers that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation,” said Facebook in a statement.
What is shocking is Facebook’s lackadaisical approach to this matter.
The social network started investigating Rankwave in June 2018 and had reason to believe that the firm was violating its policies.
Despite this, it wasn’t until 17th January this year that Facebook sent Rankwave a request for information (RFI) to prove it was in compliance with Facebooks policies and terms of service. This request was ignored.
Having not responded by the deadline (31st January), Facebook sent Rankwave a cease and desist letter. The letter was seemingly ignored.
Finally, on 17th February Rankwave began to respond to Facebook although it wasn’t what we’d call hopeful.
The firm told Facebook it needed more time to respond to the request for information. As for the cease and desist, the firm said that its chief technology officer had resigned and needed more time to respond.
The timeline continues in this regard. Facebook makes a request and it is either ignored or Rankwave asks for more time to respond with a response seemingly never coming. You can find the law suit which outlines the case in full here thanks to TechCrunch.
Facebook has asked the court for permission to restrain Rankwave from accessing the platform. The social network also wants Rankwave to comply with its request for information and provide proof that it complied with Facebook’s Platform Policies and terms of service as well as a forensic audit.
While it seems as if Facebook has tried to get Rankwave to comply with its standards it appears as if it didn’t account for one major thing – people have free will.
Much like the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018, Facebook can have folks agree to terms and conditions but thinking that will be enough sans enforcement is folly.
More than that, Facebook has been looking into this matter since June of last year with no win for it in sight. Hell, the lawsuit states that these practices might’ve been going on since 2014.
So while Facebook scrambles to solve this issue, Rankwave is seemingly able to continue using user data against users.
Buckle in Facebook, we think you’re in for a bumpy ride, again.