Facebook snooped on users’ Snapchat traffic in secret project

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In 2016, Facebook launched a secret project designed to intercept and decrypt the network traffic between people using Snapchat’s app and its servers. The goal was to understand users’ behavior and help Facebook compete with Snapchat, according to newly unsealed court documents. Facebook called this “Project Ghostbusters,” in a clear reference to Snapchat’s ghost-like logo.

On Tuesday, a federal court in California released new documents discovered as part of the class action lawsuit between consumers and Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

The newly released documents reveal how Meta tried to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors, including Snapchat and later Amazon and YouTube, by analyzing the network traffic of how its users were interacting with Meta’s competitors. Given these apps’ use of encryption, Facebook needed to develop special technology to get around it.

One of the documents details Facebook’s Project Ghostbusters. The project was part of the company’s In-App Action Panel (IAPP) program, which used a technique for “intercepting and decrypting” encrypted app traffic from users of Snapchat, and later from users of YouTube and Amazon, the consumers’ lawyers wrote in the document.

The document includes internal Facebook emails discussing the project.

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“Whenever someone asks a question about Snapchat, the answer is usually that because their traffic is encrypted we have no analytics about them,” Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an email dated June 9, 2016, which was published as part of the lawsuit. “Given how quickly they’re growing, it seems important to figure out a new way to get reliable analytics about them. Perhaps we need to do panels or write custom software. You should figure out how to do this.”

techcrunch.com/2024/03/26/facebook-secret-project-snooped-snapchat-user-traffic/?guccounter=1

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