The data collection infrastructure provider Bright Data and Meta have entered into a legal dispute over the right to scrape Meta’s social media platforms.
On January 6, Meta filed a lawsuit against Bright Data in California. According to the social media giant, Bright Data improperly scraped data from Meta’s websites, enabled others to scrape its data, and attempted to sell the scraped information, thus violating Meta’s contractual terms.
On the same day, Bright Data issued a PR piece announcing a countersuit against Meta in Delaware. Bright Data’s spokesperson gave a fiery speech, asserting that “the question before us is whether public data belongs <…> in the grip of private enterprises”, that “Meta cannot be allowed to close access to public web data that it acknowledges it does not own”, and that “Bright Data will vigorously fight for everyone’s right to access public data that fuels competition, ensures transparency and helps solve the world’s most pressing challenges”.
Social media companies have a history of going after web scrapers, with Meta and LinkedIn at the forefront. The legal disputes have raised complex questions concerning data ownership, ability to scrape public data, applicability of website terms, and interpretation of relevant legislation like the CFAA.
So far, no definite answers have been found, and web scraping companies have had to balance a legal tightrope. While this lawsuit is concerning, Bright Data is the biggest data collection company we know, and we hope that it will find the will – and resources – to bring clarity for the whole industry.