Facebook wins $3 million, injunctive relief in spammer lawsuit

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By Jennifer Wadsworth Comment

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After a years-long battle in court, Facebook won a $3 million-plus cash settlement and permanent injunction against the company behind Power.com, a now-defunct website that set out to create a one-stop portal for a user’s several social media channels.

The small win for the tech giant closes a protracted battle against Vachani and Power Ventures, which a judge ruled as having violated spamming and copyright laws by sending out tens of thousands of unsolicited messages to Facebook members.

Facebook’s Associate General Counsel Craig Clark says the victory justifies the social network’s insistence that third-party apps use Facebook Connect, a service that lets users access their account from other sites without disclosing their login information:

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.

Power Ventures founder Steve Vachani espoused grand plans for his startup when it launched in 2008. The site would become an aggregator for users’ many social media channels, including Facebook. Think of a beta-version Hootesuite or Klout, an app that links up to other networks to consolidate that data onto a single landing page.

But, according to the criminal complaint, Vachini didn’t play by Facebook’s rules, skirting the terms of use by collecting the social network’s member login info to spam the site. Facebook filed a case against the Brazil-based company in federal court alleging copyright infringement and violation of U.S. anti-spamming laws. Click here to read an overview of the back-and-forth legal fight, which some called a blatant attempt by Facebook to shut down a competitor.

Vachani, back in 2012, said a Facebook win would set “a dangerous precedent” for the future of users rights to own and control their information:

Power, together with unwavering support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has fought tirelessly over the users rights to truly own and control their data. This decision dangerously manipulates and broadens laws so that that millions of users who want to access their own data or tell their friends about new services could now face criminal liability.

With this decision, ironically Facebook could now face billions of dollars in damages and endless lawsuits and criminal damages over the tools it has provided hundreds of millions of its users tools to import their contacts and invite nearly 1 billion of their friends into Facebook.

Click here to read the injunctive order, filed Wednesday in the United States Northern California District Court in San Jose.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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