Stackla, a marketing platform that curates user-generated content, alleges in a new lawsuit that its ability to access data from Instagram and Facebook was wrongly terminated.
“Stackla is a good actor in the marketplace, but became a casualty of defendants’ relentless scorched-earth approach to belated reputation protection,” Stackla alleges in a complaint filed Thursday in San Francisco.
“In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and fueled by state and federal law enforcement antitrust investigations, a reinvigorated Federal Trade Commission investigation, and Congressional inquiries, Facebook and Instagram recently have begun purging their platforms of companies, at least as to Stackla, without any rhyme or reason and in violation of their good-faith partnerships and agreements,” the company writes.
The company, which says most of the material it curates comes from Facebook and Instagram, alleges its access to data was shut down in late August due to the erroneous perception that it was “scraping” users' data. Stackla says its business will be destroyed if its ability to access Facebook data isn't restored.
“Stackla respects the rights of social media users who create content and facilitates a process to help its clients acquire the rights to content so it can be used by its clients for marketing,” the company writes.
Stackla also says it became an official Facebook marketing partner in May, just three months before being terminated.
Stackla is asking a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order that would require Facebook to restore Stackla's accounts. The company is also seeking a declaratory judgment that it doesn't violate federal or state anti-hacking laws.
“More than 80 percent of the content sourced for Stackla’s customers comes from public material on Facebook and Instagram, and without access to those platforms, Stackla’s business will be destroyed,” the company writes in a motion for a restraining order. “As a result of defendants’ conduct a majority of Stackla’s 280 major business customers have already raised concerns regarding lack of access and Stackla’s breach of their agreements, and if Stackla’s access to Defendants’ platforms is not restored, Stackla will be irreparably harmed because its business will be destroyed and it will become insolvent.”
The company says a recent decision involving LinkedIn supports the argument for a restraining order against Facebook. In that matter, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction requiring LinkedIn to allow the company HiQ to access publicly available data about LinkedIn's users.
The judges in that case wrote that the federal anti-hacking law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, was intended to prevent activity comparable to “breaking and entering,” as opposed to gathering profile data “available to anyone with an internet connection.”
Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman says Stackla's lawsuit could mark the “beginning of a tidal wave of litigation,” spurred by the 9th Circuit's broad opinion in the dispute between HiQ and LinkedIn.