Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024
Wednesday April 17, 2024

Facebook’s secret data project exposed amidst legal battle



Court documents unveil Facebook’s covert surveillance on Snapchat and other rivals.

Facebook’s covert operation, dubbed Project Ghostbusters, has come to light, showcasing the tech giant’s efforts to gather data from competitors like Snapchat. Revealed through a US class action lawsuit, these documents from a California federal court detail the project initiated in 2016. Facebook aimed to analyze encrypted user data from not just Snapchat but also YouTube and Amazon.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a 2016 email, stressed the importance of obtaining reliable analytics on Snapchat’s encrypted traffic. He suggested exploring new methods such as panels or custom software for this purpose. Project Ghostbusters emerged as the solution, leveraging technology from Onavo, an analytics company Facebook acquired in 2013 for £158 million.

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Onavo, marketed as a privacy-enhancing VPN, was later uncovered to employ spyware techniques. This allowed it to capture user app data before encryption, leading to its shutdown in 2019 following a TechCrunch investigation. The lawsuit, filed by Maximilian Klein and Sarah Grabert in 2020, accuses Facebook of misleading consumers about data privacy and using covertly obtained data to target emerging competitors.

Meta has yet to respond to these allegations. This case highlights ongoing concerns about data privacy and competition in the tech industry, raising questions about the methods companies employ to stay ahead.


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