Facebook bans seven companies accused of surveillance for hire

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Dec. 16 (UPI) — Facebook’s parent company Meta on Thursday banned seven surveillance-for-hire companies from the social media platform over concerns about spying that could affect close to 50,000 users.

The Facebook users across 100 countries may have been targeted by the surveillance companies working for both government agencies and private clients.

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“We alerted around 50,000 people who we believe were targeted by these malicious activities worldwide, using the system we launched in 2015. We recently updated it to provide people with more granular details about the nature of targeting we detect, in line with the surveillance chain phases framework we shared above” states the report.

“Given the severity of their violations, we have banned them from our services. To help disrupt these activities, we blocked related internet infrastructure, putting them on notice that their targeting of people has no place on our platform.”

The move comes after months of investigation by the parent company, which used terms such as “cyber-mercenaries” and “surveillance-for-hire” to describe the bad actors.

The Meta report says the banned companies provide “intrusive software tools and surveillance services indiscriminately to any customer — regardless of who they target or the human rights abuses they might enable.

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The spying was not limited to Facebook. The parent company confirmed that users of Meta-owned Instagram were also targeted with malicious software.

The seven surveillance companies are located across four countries.

Facebook said it removed approximately 1,500 fake accounts, blocked malicious web addresses, and sent cease-and-desist letters to the companies.