Facebook is suing the maker of four Google Chrome browser extensions, claiming that the extensions "scraped," or harvested information from, Facebook user profiles, and also collected personal information not related to Facebook.
"If the user visited the Facebook website, the browser extensions were programmed to scrape their name, user ID, gender, relationship status, age group and other information related to their account," Facebook said in an official post (opens in new tab).
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That's a violation of Facebook's terms of service and of a Portuguese data-protection law. The lawsuit was filed in Portugal by both Facebook and its Ireland-based European subsidiary.
The extensions, which are still in the Chrome Web Store and still can be installed, are:
- Blue Messenger (opens in new tab)
- Emoji keyboard (opens in new tab)
- Green Messenger (opens in new tab)
- Web for Instagram plus DM (opens in new tab)
These extensions "were malicious and contained hidden computer code that functioned like spyware," Facebook said.
It's not clear if the extensions are still scraping user data. Three of them were last updated in December, but Emoji Keyboard hasn't been updated since July.
What you need to do
Just to be safe, it might be best to disable these extensions if you have any installed. Click the icon that looks like a puzzle piece at the top right of a desktop Chrome browser, then scroll down to Manage Extensions. See if you have any of the above extensions installed and either toggle it off or remove it.
All four extensions are owned and operated by a company named Oink and Stuff, whose website says the company also makes extensions for the Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers, plus Android apps.
The Chrome Web Store and Google Play Store say Oink and Stuff is based in Myanmar, aka Burma, but Facebook's lawsuit was filed against two individuals, whom Facebook doesn't name, in a Portuguese court.