Facebook deletes Russian firm's accounts over alleged data scraping

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration taken on August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Facebook has disabled dozens of accounts and profiles belonging to Russian database provider SocialDataHub for what it termed the unauthorized collection of user information, the social media giant said on Thursday.

Facebook said in a statement that SocialDataHub, which has previously provided analytical services to the Russian government, had violated its terms of use.

“As part of our efforts to protect people’s security, we have recently removed SocialDataHub’s accounts... because they were scraping people’s information,” it said.

“This is a violation of our terms of service, and we have disabled more than 66 of SDH’s accounts, profiles, pages, and apps from our service,” it added. “We expect to find and disable more.”

Russian businessman Artur Khachuyan, who set up SocialDataHub in 2015, told Reuters that the company had not violated any laws or Facebook’s rules. He said it had received a complaint from Facebook and was drawing up an official response.

The Facebook complaint seen by Reuters claims SocialDataHub and Fubutech, a company also set up by Khachuyan, are amongst other things providing state services with the means to identify people by analyzing social media users’ photographs.

In the letter, Facebook demands that SocialDataHub stop collecting user data and present a report by Oct. 12 detailing the data that has been collected by the company.

It also requested information about the parties to whom SocialDataHub had sold or handed out data.

Reporting by Maria Kolomychenko; Writing by Tom Balmforth and Polina Devitt; Editing by Jan Harvey