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.