Facebook wins billion-dollar spam suit

Almost US$1 billion is awarded in lawsuit

Facebook has won a US$873 million (NZ$1.5 billion) judgment in a case against a spammer in one of the largest awards yet for a suit filed under the US CAN-SPAM Act.

The suit charged Adam Guerbuez, Atlantis Blue Capital and 25 other unnamed people with falsely obtaining login information for Facebook users and then sending spam to those users' friends.

Guerbuez and the others set up fake Facebook pages where users would enter their login details, which the spammers could then steal, Facebook charged in the suit. During March and April, the spammers used the stolen login names to send more than four million spam messages over Facebook's network, the social-networking site alleged.

The spam messages would show up on Facebook users' profile pages and appeared to indicate that the user endorsed products including marijuana, male enhancement pills and other materials, according to the suit.

Guerbuez is a Canadian citizen and Atlantis Blue Capital is a company name he uses to register domain names, Facebook said.

The activities violated CAN-SPAM and other computer fraud and privacy laws, Facebook said.

On Friday, the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose ruled that the defendants did violate the CAN-SPAM Act and they were ordered to pay Facebook US$873 million in damages. The judgment also included injunctions preventing Guerbuez and his colleagues from accessing any Facebook data in the future.

Earlier this year a MySpace spammer was ordered to pay more than US$230 million for violating CAN-SPAM. At the time, that was thought to be the largest award yet under the act.

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