acebook sues developers of two Chrome extensions that stole user data
Google Chrome users have been urged to check their security protection after more malicious extensions were discovered to have been stealing user data.
Two extensions in particular, UpVoice and Ads Feed Chrome, have been flagged as particular risks, with the companies behind both tools now being sued by Facebook.
The social media giant has filed a lawsuit against the makers of both extensions after discovering that user data was being taken without permission from both Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook’s lawsuit against Israeli-based company BrandTotal Ltd, and Unimania Inc., which is incorporated in Delaware, notes that the two extensions were available to download from the official Chrome Web Store since September and November 2019 respectively.
In that time, the extensions have seen over 5,000 and 10,000 installs each, meaning thousands of users could be at risk.
“BrandTotal enticed users to install the UpVoice extension from the Google Chrome Store by offering payments in exchange for installs, in the form of online gift cards, and claiming that the users who installed the extension became ‘panelists . . . [who] impact the marketing decisions and brand strategies of multi-billion dollars (sic) corporations’,” court documents filed by Facebook stated.
“Similarly, Unimania promoted its Ads Feed extension on the Google Chrome Store by claiming that the users became ‘a panel member of an elite community group that impacts the advertising decisions of multi-billion dollar corporations!’,” Facebook added.
The lawsuit claims that the UpVoice extension scraped data from user profiles at Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube, with Ads Feed collecting data from users accessing their Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and YouTube profiles.
User names, user ID, gender, date of birth, relationship status, and location information was among the data scraped by the two services, along with advertising preferences and other metrics that showed how users interacted with online ads.
Facebook says it has tried to lobby Google to remove the two extensions from the Chrome Web Store multiple times, but the tools still remain available. It advises users that have downloaded either extension to remove it immediately.