Any marketing company or team operating worldwide typically shares a common practice: extracting data from social media platforms and utilizing this information for digital marketing endeavors. Similarly, certain online marketing firms provide data scraping tools to premium users, enabling them to gather sensitive details from profiles sourced on the internet.
However, a concerted effort has emerged to curtail this practice. At least 12 international privacy watchdogs have joined forces to advocate for major social networking companies to block these deceptive marketing tactics that pose a threat to data privacy.
In response, industry giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter (also known as X), Instagram, and WhatsApp have collectively issued a stern warning to both individuals and companies, cautioning against engaging in data mining practices that could result in legal complications and potentially substantial penalties.
Extracting publicly available information from online platforms runs afoul of data protection and privacy regulations in numerous countries worldwide. Consequently, widespread data scraping will be treated as a breach of data privacy and could lead to severe consequences.
A notable case that serves as an example is that of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based marketing firm that was a subsidiary of Facebook. This firm came under scrutiny for conducting a survey on Facebook users during the 2016 US presidential election, which ultimately saw Donald Trump emerge victorious. Notably, Trump is currently facing potential legal consequences in Georgia.
Cambridge Analytica’s activities were exposed by a data watchdog in 2017, leading to Congressional actions against the firm following testimony from Mark Zuckerberg. However, those behind the deceptive data marketing practices managed to dissolve the company before final legal actions could be taken.
A similar scenario unfolded in the realm of AI data feeds with ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI in conjunction with Microsoft. This led to a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of scraping substantial amounts of data from various online platforms to train its chat-based conversational AI.
Consequently, these practices are now being classified as illegal, and privacy regulators from countries including Australia, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Colombia, Jersey, Morocco, India, Argentina, and Mexico—each a member of the Global Privacy Assembly International Enforcement Cooperation—have collectively taken the stance that such activities constitute a breach of data privacy regulations, except in the case of the Indian subcontinent.