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Seven Web Scraping Misconceptions You Should Know About


Contrary to what most people believe, web scraping itself is perfectly legal. However, that doesn’t mean all kinds of scraping aren’t against the law. To remain legal, it has to stay within certain boundaries, like intellectual properties, personal data regulations, and terms of service of a particular website.

7 Common Web Scraping Myths Debunked

These lines can often get a bit blurry, though, as there are quite a few areas of confusion. From the legal side of things, usage scenarios, to challenges compared to other solutions, we’ll go through the most common myths regarding web scraping and online data gathering in general.

1. Is Web Scraping Illegal?

Since countless web scrapers don’t care about intellectual property and steal content, many people believe the practice is against the law. That’s not true. Web scraping itself is legal. However, problems arise when people ignore a website’s terms of service and gather data without permission. Although using web scrapers isn’t covered by a specific law, certain regulations (Like CFAA and DMCA) do cover it.

2. It’s Okay to Scrape Any Website

People often want to scrape data like email addresses, social media posts, or financial data with Yahoo proxies. Before starting your scraping operation, you should consider a few key rules. Most importantly, private data behind a username and a password is off-limits. You also need to comply with the terms of service if a website prohibits web scraping. Finally, you should never scrape copyrighted data.

Social networks like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are okay to scrape. Websites like eBay and Craigslist allow it as long as you use the data for your own purposes. Many sellers scrape these websites to optimize their marketing strategies. You can read more here to learn how web scraping with proxies helps people make the most of these platforms.

3. You Can Do Whatever You Want With Scraped Data

Scraping publicly available data for analysis and research is perfectly legal. However, using this data for profit is against the law. You can’t scrape private information without getting permission, and you can’t sell it to a third party to make a profit. If you’re ever in doubt, any fraudulent data use (like plagiarism, spamming, or invading privacy) is against the law.

4. There’s No Difference Between Web Scraping and Web Crawling

This is not true. Web scrapers gather targeted data from a specific website or service, which is usually related to new leads, product pricing, real estate listings, and similar information. Web crawling is an entirely different beast – it scans complete websites and indexes them along with all internal links. That’s what search engines do. Their crawlers go through web pages without a specific target.

5. Web Scraping Is Fast

Many scraping services claim they’re incredibly fast and can gather data in seconds. Things are often not that simple. Even if you arm yourself with a massive pool of residential proxies to keep your scraping anonymous, sending too many requests to a web server might overload it and lead to a crash. Causing this type of damage can get you in legal trouble. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to use your web scraper responsibly.

6. Only Businesses Can Make Use of Scraping

Countless companies in different industries use web scraping. It’s a great way to get new leads, perform price tracking, market analysis, and do other useful things to improve their operations. However, individuals can also take advantage of gathering information via scraping. Students can speed up their research efforts, journalists can aggregate news focused on a specific event or topics, and homebuyers can find their dream home by collecting data from real estate agencies and online marketplaces.

7. You Must Know How to Code

While building your own custom scraper does take some programming knowledge, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can find countless free and paid web scraping solutions online to help you gather the data you need. Investing some time into finding something that works, marketers, consultants, investors, journalists, researchers, students, and others can take advantage of gathering data this way without writing a single line of code.

Final Thoughts

Web scraping is here to stay. Businesses and individuals worldwide use it on a daily basis to make their data gathering and analysis tasks faster and more efficient. If you’re looking to get into it, remember to keep it ethical. Make sure to check the target website’s terms of service before scraping and ask for written permission if needed. Stick to publicly available data, avoid intellectual property, and never abuse the information you gathered for profit or spam.


Ram Kumar blogs at DeviceBowl. He is a graduate in Computer Science and Engineering. Addicted to Blogging and Coding.

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