Facebook. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

San Francisco, Oct 21 : Facebook has filed lawsuits against four individuals who provided services intended to artificially inflate likes and followers of Instagram accounts, a practice known as fake engagement.

New York-based Sean Heilweil and Jarrett Lusso provided their service using the website boostgram.com while Laila Abou Trabi and Robin Abou Trabi, based in Dubai, used the website instant-fans.com.

"Boostgram used a network of bots to automate the delivery of likes and followers of Instagram accounts - a practice known as fake engagement," Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday.

On their website, Boostgram claimed to offer users a way to "increase Instagram exposure" and profited from their services.

Instant-fans.com also used a network of bots and automation software to deliver fake engagement to their customers' Instagram accounts.

"In addition to artificially inflating Instagram likes and followers, Instant-fans.com also offered fake engagement services for Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other web services," said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook.

They provide fake engagement services to both individual customers as well as other fake engagement services known as "commercial resellers" of fake engagement.

Facebook also enforced against businesses running online scams targeting the users.

"We disabled accounts and sent cease and desist letters to seven businesses located in Asia and Europe that were defrauding online users who purchased items from their sites. We took these actions based on our users' complaints," the social network informed.

Each of the companies used Facebook and Instagram to post ads for consumer products.

When someone clicked the link in the ad to buy a product, the user was redirected to a third-party website to complete their purchase.

After paying for the item, the user either never received the item or received an item that is different than the item described in the ad. In all cases, people were unable to return items or obtain a refund.

In August, a court in Spain granted Facebook request for a court order directing the company MGP25 Cyberint Services and its founder to cease their fake engagement operations immediately.

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