Facebook wins $3M injunction against spammer

Power Ventures and its CEO were found liable for sending 60,627 spam e-mail messages to Facebook members.

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The Facebook icon flag at the social network's Menlo Park, Calif., campus. Facebook

Nearly five years after the fact, Facebook has been awarded $3 million in damages in its case against social-network spammer Power Ventures and its CEO, Steve Vachani. The order was issued Wednesday by Judge Lucy H. Koh of the United States District Court, San Jose Division.

Power Ventures and its CEO were both found liable under the Can-Spam Act for sending 60,627 spam e-mail messages to Facebook members. Koh also granted Facebook permanent injunctive relief.

"We are pleased with today's ruling awarding over $3 million in damages and injunctive relief. We will continue to enforce our rights against bad actors who seek to harm Facebook and the people who use it," Craig Clark, associate general counsel for Facebook, said in a statement to CNET.

As part of a launch strategy, Power Ventures, which operates the Power.com Web site, created a "Power 100" campaign and offered users the chance to win $100 if they invited and signed up the most new users, according to court documents. Users were given a list of Facebook friends to send invitations to, and Power.com then sent deceptive e-mails to their friends with "@facebookmail.com" in the from field. The e-mail included a line that the message was from "The Facebook Team."

"Defendants created a software program to access Facebook's Web site, scraped user information from Facebook, repeatedly changed Power Venture's IP address in order to circumvent technical barriers Facebook had installed, and used that information to cause Facebook's servers to send spam e-mails to Facebook users with '@facebookmail.com' mailing addresses," the ruling states.

The case, which dates back to December 2008, had been originally decided in Facebook's favor on February 16, 2012 in an order by Judge James Ware. The case was closed after Power Ventures filed for bankruptcy but was later reopened when the bankruptcy filing was dismissed.

Wednesday, Facebook was awarded $50 for each of the 60,627 spam messages for a total of $3,031,350 in damages.

The victory is more of a moral one than a financial one. But the order also comes with a permanent injunction against Vachani and Power Ventures, meaning subsidiary or associated companies can't engage in similar practices, and that the defendants must destroy software, scripts, and any Facebook data they obtained.

The full ruling is embedded below.

Facebook v Power Ventures and Steve Vachani

 

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