In recent weeks, the dust between the manufacturer of a forgotten Facebook bikini app and the social media giants has been compounded by a sensational fight with the British Parliament.
On Friday both sides were in the case Six4Three v. Facebook which asserts a breach of contract, for the second time in a week before a San Mateo County judge passed in a hearing that temporarily dragged on for three hours.
However, Six4Three's recent lawsuits show that its attorneys are also involved in a second lawsuit filed by another company, one of which promoted breast cancer awareness among others, which raises very similar allegations against Facebook. [19659005ThisNewFall Styleform IT v. Facebook filed last month with the San Francisco County Supreme Court raises sweeping claims that Facebook has been involved in "fraudulent and anti-competitive machinations of defendants for years" Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook Inc., with the intent to deliberately mislead tens of thousands of software companies.
The case alleges breach of contract, concealment and intent A misrepresentation, inter alia, in California law.
Styleform IT seems to be the second case under the banner "Facebook App Economy" – A Comprehensive Attempt to Suffer App Developers Feeling Suffered This website, which dates back only a few months, does not list the names of any person or company behind them, but invites readers to "Tell Zuckerberg, we're no longer his Patsy! "
Submissions to a related Six4Tree case dating back to 2016 strongly suggest that this site was created by Six4Three itself, apparently as a way to attract more developers to their cause System and claimed a trademark infringement that was apparently unsuccessful, and it's not clear why Six4Three wants to keep its affiliation with this site a secret e, when she and her lawyers want to draw troubled app developers.
The new plaintiff, Styleform IT, is a seemingly dead Swedish one-person company. which according to the lawsuit has only made a few Facebook apps that started over a decade ago.
Facebook has denied any wrongdoing.
"This case is as priceless as the Six4three case," Sally Aldous, a Facebook spokeswoman, told Ars in a statement.
Straight outta Stockholm
Styleform IT does not seem to have any web presence. It was first registered with the Swedish Register Court in January 2005 when a man named "Frans Olof Mikael Belmondo Rosén" lived in Enskede, a suburb of Stockholm.
According to the lawsuit, Styleform's "principal place of business" is a residence in Enskede, just 2.5 kilometers from the previously registered residential address.
There's a well-known Swedish information security researcher named Frans Rosén, who says he lives in Stockholm, but it's not clear if it's the same person. This Rosén did not respond to Ars & # 39; s request for comment.
San Francisco lawyers Stuart Gross and Benjamin Klein and David Godki and James Kruzer from Boston did not respond to Ars & # 39; s Inquiry comment.
The Styleform lawsuit goes through a far-reaching narrative that largely reflects the Six4Tree lawsuit, in many cases using a very similar, though not identical, language.
Styleform lawyers claim that Facebook has misled many developers That's when Facebook finally opened access to its first version ("v1.0") of its Graph API, which was first and foremost serves to load data into Facebook and get out of it.
"Facebook" Graph API was a revolution in the provision of large-scale data. Jonathan Albright, research director at the Columbia University Tow Center for Digital Journalism, wrote in March 2018.
"It has transformed people around their preferences, connections, locations, updates, networks, histories, and expanded social networks – literally – "objects". This made the company's offerings and the data generated by its users more economical. "
In other words, even though a user has marked updates as" private "and this data is unreadable to other Facebook friends, the data remains machine-readable.
" The API was not privacy-aware. " User limited settings – it was deceptive, "said Ashkan Soltani, an independent privacy researcher who recently testified before the British Parliament on Facebook, to Ars.
" API developers were using the same level of access as Facebook itself treated. They had almost superuser access.
The Styleform claim, like the Six4Three case, claims that Facebook initially said it would grant all developers equal access to the Graph API, though it had "special access to high-profile players, including Nissan and the Royal Bank of Canada.
New documents created as a result of the Six4three case confirm this. They show that Facebook has extended access to some large companies have thought about whether they would have access to their huge databases.
Facebook said these revelations were "misleading" but did not fully explain why there was an additional context.
Styleform's civil lawsuit tells of a turning point in 2012, when Facebook's stock plunged dramatically and the company needed to reassess its business model.
"To save Facebook's business, Sheryl Sandberg, Dan Rose, Samuel Lessin and others were convinced Zuckerberg to arm user data and the Graph API into a blackmail process that had devastating effects on the entire consumer software industry. Industry and caused 35,000 small- to medium-sized businesses to shut down or swerve with significant losses and the families that depended on them, "the document said.
The power to move markets
What did Styleform IT actually do?
The company was a contractor for a Swedish advertising company, claiming to create the first Swedish Facebook app – "Pink Band" ("Pink Ribbon"), which aims to boost awareness of breast cancer. The app apparently collected more than 200,000 euros to support the study of the disease.
Styleform created another application, Klimatsmart ("Climate Smart"), which in turn should use the "Full Friends List API" and other Graph API endpoints to operate and reach more than 17,000 Facebook users. Another app, "Nyarsloften" ("New Year's Resolutions"), proposed resolutions to friends and helped them track their progress.
Through these three apps, Styleform said it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing and maintaining these apps for millions of Facebook users.
"In short, he armed one third of the world's population to prevent Facebook's business from being switched from desktop to mobile ads. The market realized that Facebook's financial forecasts for 2012 and 2013 were wrong were because Facebook was not exactly how quickly users switched their time on the Internet from desktop to mobile phones, "the lawsuit continues.
Soltani, who has previously worked for the Federal Trade Commission and helped found his office for technology research and investigation, added that the hearing had taken place in the UK when he first met a politician He was confident that other regulators would notice this, linking the dots between competition and privacy.
"Companies use personal information as a competitive tool and it seems they are finally in the public discourse." It's not just about controlling information, it's about controlling information. This has strategic market advantages with which you share data, "he said, adding that growth at any cost is the" dirty secret "of Silicon Valley.
" You can be a king of app economics by choosing give someone the opportunity to use personal information to improve their advertising, but also increase their virality and growth. Whether you have access to a friends list or not can make or break a company.
Facebook has not formally responded to the lawsuit and no court case has been initiated.