Facebook alleges in the lawsuit filed on Friday in California Superior Court in San Mateo County that a South Korean company, Rankwave breached a contract with the social network and violated a California law that prohibits unfair, unlawful or fraudulent business acts.
Facebook was investigating Rankwave's data practices concerning its advertising and marketing services, Rankwave failed to cooperate with our efforts to verify their compliance with our policies, which we require of all developers using our platform. – Jessica Romero, Facebook's director of platform enforcement and litigation
Rankwave had refused to co-operate with Facebook when it had sought to audit the South Korean group, which is mandatory for all developers that use its platform, Facebook said. In its lawsuit, Facebook accuses Rankwave of ignoring repeated requests to open itself up to an audit and provide evidence relating to data it had allegedly obtained.
According to court documents filed in California on Friday, Facebook is accusing Rankwave of using at least 30 different apps to "track and analyze" comments and likes on Facebook pages.
The lawsuit highlights how Facebook is trying to show the public and developers that it's taking privacy seriously in the wake of a series of scandals. Last year, revelations surfaced that UK political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent.
The case will probably draw comparisons with Cambridge Analytica, the UK-based data analytics firm that abused private Facebook data to inform political campaigning efforts. The discovery of that incident plunged Facebook into a crisis.
Facebook is asking for unspecified damages and seeking to recoup the $9.8m that it says Rankwave had profited from through the use of its data.