Last week, Facebook sued a New Zealand-based company, Social Media Series Ltd., and its owners, alleging that they operated a service that provided fake likes, views, and followers to Instagram users.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, Facebook alleged that the defendants artificially inflated likes, views, and followers of Instagram accounts by using a network of bots and Instagram accounts to deliver millions of automated likes to their customers' Instagram accounts. Facebook alleged that the activity not only violated Instagram's Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, but violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the California Penal Code. Facebook is seeking about $10 million in damages.

Facebook said that even though it had previously warned the defendants that their actions violated Instagram's terms of use and had suspended their accounts, their activity continued. Instagram's Community Guidelines say, "Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares . . . ."

In a statement, Facebook's Director of Platform Engagement and Litigation, Jessica Romero, said, "Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform. That's why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behavior, including blocking the creation and use of fake accounts and using machine learning technology to proactively find and remove inauthentic activity from Instagram."

This is not the first time that Facebook has sued over the sale of fake engagement. Earlier this year, Facebook sued four companies and various individuals over the sale of fake accounts, likes, and followers.

{ "Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform" -- Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, Facebook