Facebook launches lawsuit against New Zealanders for selling fake engagement services to Instagram users

Facebook and Instagram have filed a lawsuit in a US federal court against a New Zealand company.

The social media giants are also suing three individual New Zealanders.

Their complaint alleges the Kiwi company and individuals used multiple websites to sell fake likes, views, and followers to Instagram users.

"We previously suspended accounts associated with the defendants and formally warned them in writing that they were in violation of our terms of use, however their activity persisted," said Facebook's director of platform enforcement and litigation Jessica Romero.

Romero said in a statement on Friday that Facebook won't tolerate this kind of behaviour.

"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," she said.

According to the statement, the New Zealand company continued to operate its business even after its access was revoked, and the accounts were suspended.

The lawsuit aims to prevent the defendants from profiting from the sale of false engagement services (likes, followers and views) on Instagram.

It also asks the court to stop the New Zealand company from violating Facebook and Instagram's terms of use, and the Californian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

"Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform," said Romero.

"That's why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behaviour, including blocking fake accounts and using machine learning technology to proactively find and remove inauthentic activity from Instagram."