Press Release

Meta drops legal case against Bright Data

Wed 28 Feb 2024

Late last Friday, Meta filed a notice to dismiss its legal claim against Bright Data, a company specialising in the collection of public web data.

This decision came after a summary judgment by Judge Chen, which sided with Bright Data, stating that its practice of scraping public data from Facebook and Instagram did not breach Meta’s Terms of Use.

The dismissal notice ends the interference claim focused on the use of Bright Data’s services by customers and removes Meta’s option to appeal the summary judgment.

During the claim, Bright Data did not make any agreement with Meta or make any changes to its conduct.

“This concession by Meta is a pivotal moment for Bright Data and the web scraping community. We are thrilled with the outcome of this case, solidifying public information is just that, public,” said Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data.

Judge’s Ruling Clarifies Terms of Use and Public Data Rights

The court’s prior ruling clarified that Meta’s terms apply only to users actively logged into their accounts for data scraping purposes. It stated that the scraping of publicly available information, done while logged out, does not violate Meta’s terms.

This outcome emphasises the right of the public to access and gather data available on the web.

“The Internet was intended for everyone’s benefit and no single entity or person should claim they own it,” added Lenchner.

Background of the Meta/Bright Data Case

Bright Data operates by scraping data that is publicly accessible, without requiring a login. The court’s decision last month provided a partial summary judgment on breach of contract claims, noting that Meta failed to prove Bright Data had scraped non-public, login-required data.

The litigation delved into the extent of user data collection by third parties like Bright Data, which then sell the data for various uses, including market research and AI training.

Despite Meta’s allegations, backed by an example of a dataset including 615 million Instagram records sold for £679,864 ($860,000), the court found insufficient evidence that this data collection necessitated logged-in access.

Moreover, the court rejected Meta’s equivalence of using automated tools to bypass CAPTCHAs with accessing password-protected websites. It also found no proof that Bright Data utilised its Facebook and Instagram accounts for scraping, thereby not violating Meta’s terms of service.

This case highlights the ongoing discussions around data privacy, the use of public information, and the legal boundaries of web scraping. As Meta evaluates its next steps, the legal and ethical frameworks governing web data use continue to evolve.

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