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Court Dismisses Data Scraping Lawsuit Against Bright Data

Client Updates / Jan 31, 2024

Written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

A federal court in San Francisco, California, has held that harvesting publicly available data from Facebook and Instagram, when performed by a user not logged-in to the platform, does not violate the Facebook and Instagram terms of use. The court’s summary judgment dismissed the breach of contract claims filed by Facebook and Instagram against Bright Data, an Israeli company that sells data collected from these platforms.

Facebook and Instagram had accused Bright Data of breaching their contracts, alleging that their terms of use prohibit data harvesting by any user, whether logged in, logged off, or not registered at all.

The court held that the platforms’ terms of use were intended to apply only to registered users while they are logged-in to their accounts. Therefore, a person who harvests data while not logged-in does not meet the definition of a ‘user’ under these terms, and the provisions against harvesting do not apply to the individual.

The court also observed that past amendments to Facebook’s terms of use suggest that the terms, as drafted today, do not intend for the terms to apply to mere ‘visitors’ to the platform who are not logged in. The court found no basis to conclude that Bright Data breached the contract because Facebook’s and Instagram’s complaint offered no proof that the company scraped data while logged in to the platforms.

The court’s decision allows Facebook and Instagram to amend their complaint, potentially shifting the focus to unjust enrichment rather than breach of contract. Additionally, Facebook’s allegations that Bright Data’s actions constitute tortious interference with a contract are also pending.

Click here to read the court`s decision in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bright Data.