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Facebook orders creepy AI firm to stop scraping your Instagram photos

Facebook orders creepy AI firm to stop scraping your Instagram photos
[Photo: Matthias Oberholzer/Unsplash]

Facebook has told Clearview AI, the controversial face-recognition service that works with law enforcement agencies around the country, to stop using images from its networks, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“Scraping people’s information violates our policies, which is why we’ve demanded that Clearview stop accessing or using information from Facebook or Instagram,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to Fast Company.

The previously little-known company drew national attention last month after an article by New York Times reporter Kashmir Hill revealed that the company claimed to have scraped billions of photos from services including Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo to match against people of interest to law enforcement.

Twitter, YouTube parent Google, and Venmo have also reportedly told the startup to stop accessing data from their sites, saying it violates their policies. Whether they can legally enforce those rules may be uncertain: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that a company scraping LinkedIn in violation of the social site’s policies likely didn’t violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a key federal anti-hacking law.

Clearview didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.

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