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Facebook Wins Suit Against Spam King

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on
If you're reading this, chances are you are probably pretty tech savvy.  Maybe you found this post through a search engine, Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other.  Maybe you read it by clicking a shortened link on Twitter.  Maybe you came across it from a post on Facebook.  Or perhaps it was delivered to you via RSS feed.  All are tech-forward ways to get your fill of your favorite news and blogs.

As you explore new social media and integrate it into your online life, you may acknowledge forces threatening your communications. Unsavory schemes such as phishing, online bait-and-switch, and virtual misrepresentation can make users of social media feel uneasy and distrustful of engaging online.  So what does the social media industry do when its users' personal information is being infiltrated and usurped by spammers?  

It fights back.  And sometimes, it wins.

Facebook brought suit against a notorious online marketer and spammer, Sanford Wallace, claiming that Wallace and his affiliates created Facebook accounts through which they established a phishing scheme in November 2008.  And just last week, Facebook prevailed and was awarded damages upwards of $700 million in a U.S. District Court in San Jose, California.

Specifically, Facebook claimed violations to law designed to combat spam called CAN-SPAM.  To be sure, it cited 14 million violations to the federal law.  After the case was filed earlier this year, the presiding judge issued a temporary restraining order followed by a preliminary injunction to clamp down on Wallace's practices.

And though the $700 million award is a fraction of the $7.5 billion in damages claimed by Facebook, it sends a strong messages to spammers and would-be spammers to stay off its turf.  And that's not the only case that's been keeping the Facebook legal team busy.  Back in November, Facebook won a claim against a Canadian resident for dispersing over 4 million messages from member profiles and was awarded nearly $900 million in damages.

Though Facebook may never receive the entire $700 million award, considering Wallace filed bankruptcy earlier this year, it is pleased with the result and the legal back-up to protecting online user privacy. 

And Wallace? Well, his adventures may be just beginning.  The U.S. District Court Judge stated that Wallace violated federal law with "blatant disregard" and that he will be forwarding the matter to the local U.S. attorney's office for consideration of criminal contempt charges for violating court orders to prohibit the illegal practices.  

In social media v. spam, it's one more point for social media.

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