Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

Summary: Major news sources are reporting that Facebook has won a $873 million dollar judgement against a Canadian spammer. What this means for spam on social networks is not clear, however.


Major news sources are reporting that Facebook has won a $873 million dollar judgement against a Canadian spammer. What this means for spam on social networks is not clear, however. Adam Guerbuez of Montreal, CA, had a judgement of $873 million dropped on him by a U.S. federal court in San Jose late last week. Guerbuez, who is apparently the same epitome of humanity who sold videos of people beating the homeless, did not appear for the proceedings. Will spam go away now that this rogue will be forced to labor for the next ten millennia just to pay down this massive debt? Probably not.

The e-mail world has shown us that criminal and civil judgements against spammers are mostly moral victories and don't stop spam. Only a fraction of the spammers are going to be within the not-so-long arm of the law, and are capable of being removed from play. Much like the drug trade, once domestic sources are removed, international ones in difficult-to-police areas of the world pop up to take their place.

The case is interesting for Facebook, MySpace, and other social networks as it mirrors the legal maneuvers of the early e-mail spam wars. In fact, social networks will likely never see spam problems on the scale seen in the e-mail world precisely because they are watching the e-mail world so closely. A result of this vigilance will be the adoption of content filtering techniques similar to those seen in the e-mail world by the social networks, hopefully before spam truly gains a foothold in their infrastructure.

It goes without saying that it is unlikely that Facebook will see anywhere near the $873 million. However, if they did collect a large fraction of the money, I bet I know where they can spend it.

Topics: Collaboration, Security, Social Enterprise

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  • what a moron

    quit get ride of the moron
    • k dude

      if you posted in french I think i would be able to understand you better... your english makes no sense...
      • i post too quickly

        i meant get ride of that moron asap .

        This guy is the prime example why internet is a dump

        is that better for you mr
        • Sorry...

          I still can't completely understand what you're saying... I'm sure you mean 'rid' but you are spelling it wrong as 'ride'... I still don't know who you are calling a moron... From what I can make of it I think you are saying that this article was garbage and the blogger was a moron?
          • ...and you think you'd understand French?

            wait a minute... you're riding Quebec because he spelled
            "rid" wrong??? It's his second language and when (more
            than likely) English is your native language, you can't spell
            out "okay"??? I think you need to chill on the spelling issue
            unless you are trying to be helpful...

            As for the clarification of the issue as to who he is calling
            a moron, I think that's reasonable, but you're coming
            across as pretty hostile...
            Dave Mount
          • Actually...

            English is my second language... I can understand a small bit of French, but not a lot... I didn't mean to be hostile, sorry if it came across as that...
  • RE: Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

    More! More! We need lost more of this kind of thing! Why isn't the news media picking up on any of this? We need to add pressure to the fight!
    • Media coverage of spammer judgement

      >> Why isn't the news media picking up on any of this?

      Actually, this news story got pretty good airtime on CBC Radio news today. I haven't checked the newspaper or Canadian TV news yet, but I expect the story will be mentioned.
  • This is not a new criminal behavior

    Crowds gathered in medieval England to see pickpockets get hanged for their crimes. Other pickpockets (that had not been caught) pickpocketed the crowd.
    I don't think these high profile cases will deter spammers, instead the spammers that are caught will not spam again, much like the executed pickpocketers will not pickpocket again. To reduce the spam, increase security, and increase efficiency with which criminals are caught.
    Hard to see how this could happen without sacrificing some internet anonymity.
  • So where's our share?

    I tire of these companies who could do something about spam doing nothing. Well, except sue.

    I have long argued that email companies should get together and formulate an agreed standard that would basically stop a lot of spam.
    Here's my ideas, AGAIN:

    1. Disallow more than one address in the "To" line, eliminate the "CC" line. Ie, force anything with more than one recipient to be BCC. This includes all them lame duck FWDs from your so-called friends.
    2. Speaking of FWDs, disallow them.
    3. Disallow HTML in the To and Subject lines.
    4. Force the actual email address to be shown. None of this artificial fake email addresses.

    These are just a few simple things that should have been done 10 years ago. But, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Outlook, Myspace and Facebook and all these email servers look forward to lawsuits. Well, I say we deserve some of that winning too.
    Assuming they ever see a dime, that is.
    Then again, maybe we should see some of it anyway, and they can deal with collecting.
    • There's a simpler way

      I may add that there should be just one new functionality added to the e-mail protocols: a REJECTED function, which should function not by the reply-to line, but by the message ID codes that the various servers auto-generate when transmitting messages to each-other through the chain. In such a setting, rejected message would get back following the reverse of the same track that got them to the user, until on of the legitimate servers hits a wall and discovers the spammer. Then, they can just shut the account down (in case of some zombi machine, it will most probably be a client of the ISP whose server hit a wall). But I guess the ISPs and other big players wouldn't implement such a scheme, as it would shift the responsibility to them instead of blaming the small guy (and selling anti-spam "protection")... I know of a few other businesses that sell protection, but it's called racket.
    • Agree and disagree

      Whilst I fully agree that the major players should get together and produce a standard that superceedes SMTP (which is what I think you are saying), draconian measures will not work and would probably take away a lot of the freedom and ease of use we take for granted

      I can't understand the logic in any of your points because they are nothing whatsoever to do with the root of the problem.
      • On the contrary

        Any spammer has to get his/her messages into the 'net through a starting point (a SMTP server) which may or may not be an ISP's server, but has to be connected to one at some point. What I'm suggesting is to simply have the possibility of returning an e-mail to the sender not by the regular mechanism (by following the reply-to or sender pointers) but through the server chain (putting in use all the mile-long ID strings that you see when you examine a message's header). The rejected messages will thus create a congestion on the exact entry point that the spammer is using, not the fake ones they put on their messages, and the ISP responsible for that point will be forced to do something about it. It's as simple as that. No need to re-invent SMTP, because of we do so, the sharks are waiting to replace it with something they can bill you for.
  • RE: Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

    Well, a moral victory at best, a waste of time at worst.

    Judgements like these are not enforceable and quite dumb.
    Instead of having him pay $873 million (which he will never
    do, except if he wins 873 times in the lottery, which,
    assuming 1 win a week, would take almost 17 years) throw
    him in jail for lets say 10 years. This would send the right
    message, unlike that joke judgement
  • Message ID's....

    are not generated by the server but by the email client program. They can also be created by the programmer that sends the spam.
    • Sorry, maybe ID is not the exact word

      What I meant was this part of the header (taken from an actual ZDNet message I received:

      Received: from tomts38-srv.bellnexxia.net ([]) by bay0-pamc1-f1.bay0.hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.2444);
      Wed, 26 Nov 2008 10:40:43 -0800
      Received: from toip49.srvr.bell.ca ([])
      by tomts38-srv.bellnexxia.net
      (InterMail vM. 201-253-122-130-113-20050324) with ESMTP
      id <20081126184042.YWYC1648.tomts38-srv.bellnexxia.net@toip49.srvr.bell.ca>
      for <viken@sympatico.ca>; Wed, 26 Nov 2008 13:40:42 -0500
      Received: from toip18.srvr.bell.ca ([])
      by toip49.srvr.bell.ca with ESMTP; 26 Nov 2008 13:40:35 -0500
      Received: from alias4.c17-ave-mta4.cnet.com ([])
      by toip18.srvr.bell.ca with ESMTP; 26 Nov 2008 13:40:33 -0500
      Received: from c17-ave-nemoe3.cnet.com ([])
      by alias4.c17-ave-mta4.cnet.com with ESMTP; 26 Nov 2008 18:40:33 +0000

      I think it's feasable.
  • RE: Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

    I don't like spam and I am glad they have stopped this guy. But this is not a fair punishment for what he did. Get rid of his spam, absolutely. But having to pay $ to Facebook for the rest of his life? Thats ridiculous.

    If rapists and murderers can walk our streets after serving their sentences, why shouldn't this idiot.

    What we have here is a typical example of corporatism, which poses a much larger danger to our society than spam on a social networking site......
  • This judgment is a legal travesty

    I abhor spamming just like everyone else I know.
    But it actually is well controlled by gmail, my
    email provider. I never get
    unsolicited/unauthorized email in my inbox and
    never get wanted emails in my spam box. So I
    cannot say I agree that spam is a VERY serious

    Yet this judgment would suggest that what this
    individual did wrong was one of the great civil
    wrongs of all of human history. I have only
    heard of larger judgments a few times (like the
    Exxon Valdez case, which I believe was
    ultimately reduced to a lower amount). This is
    entirely unbalanced. The main purpose of civil
    judgments is to pay plaintiffs for the damage
    caused by the defendant. This guy really cost
    Facebook $863M? On rare occasions, punitive
    damages are allowed, but they are limited to
    such sums as are reasonably necessary to deter
    another defendant of similar wealth from doing
    the same thing. Was this guy a billionaire?

    This is an obscene result for a civil trial.

    And to those who keep commenting that this was a
    crime, no it was not. He was not accused of a
    crime in this suit and is to be presumed
    innocent until such time as he is accused of a
    crime by a district attorney and found guilty by
    a jury.

    By all means lets fix the problem with spam,
    some of the commenter have really good ideas on
    this point. And lets sue spammers when we catch
    them. But let the punishment fit the wrong.

    Corporate America engages in civil wrongs all
    the time that touch far more lives in far more
    serious ways while paying out fines that are
    infinitesimal compared to this.

    And if this guy is so difficult to control,
    perhaps a modest criminal charge with a sentence
    of a year in prison would be more effective than
    this absurd award.
  • RE: Facebook wins $873 million judgement against spammer

    Anonymity on the Internet is a double-edge sword. Even the masked bank robber leaves evidence of his crime and his identity behind. Not so with the spammer. The jurisdiction where the crime takes place is not even clear.

    No one wants the Chinese government to be able to arrest one of its detractors after readingtheir e-mail but we would like our own goverment be able to stop these thieves.

    What's the solution.
    M Wagner
  • Did you know Facebook is worth nothing ?

    They say the company is around $5bi, but in reality they make almost NO money in the WHOLE DAMN YEAR, so the REAL value of the company is close to NONE (no kidding)!

    So beware, Facebook is a GIANT bubble and will explode very very soon!