Facebook is cracking down on services that promise to help Instagram users buy themselves a large following on the photo app. The social network said today that it has filed a lawsuit against a New Zealand-based company that operates one such “follower-buying service.”
The suit is in a U.S. court and is targeting the three individuals running the company, which has been named as Social Media Series Limited.
We were not initially able to get a copy of the lawsuit, but have asked Facebook for further details.
This action comes months after a TechCrunch expose identified 17 follower-buyer services that were using Instagram’s own advertising network to peddle their wares to users of the service.
Instagram responded by saying it had removed all ads as well as disabled all the Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts of the services that we reported to be violating its policies. However, just one day later, TechCrunch found advertising from two of the companies on Instagram, while a further five were found to be paying to promote policy-violating follower-growth services.
Facebook has stepped up its efforts to crack down on “inauthentic behavior” on its platforms in recent months. That’s included removing accounts and pages from Facebook and Instagram in countries that include India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the U.K., Romania, Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo this year. Higher-profile action has included the removal of U.K. far-right activist Tommy Robinson from Facebook, and in Myanmar, where Facebook has been much-criticized, the company banned four armed groups.
Note: The original version of this article has been updated to include the name of the company.