Facebook Files Lawsuits Against Spammers, App Developer

Facebook filed three anti-spam lawsuits against two Long Island men and a Canadian advertising company for creating fake profiles or tricking users into signing up for mobile services that had recurring monthly charges.

One of the three lawsuits involves applications, which is rare because the company tends to focus on naming rights or trademark infringement, not how an actual application functions.

In three separate cases, the company sued Steven Richter, Jason Swan, and an affiliate marketing company Max Bounty, Inc. today in U.S. District Court in San Jose for violating Facebook’s terms of service. Facebook said that the defendants would either trick users into signing up for mobile subscriptions or spamming their friends.

For example, Max Bounty would create Facebook Pages that said the company would reward users with a free $250 discount on MAC Cosmetics if they completed a three-step process. Instead, the complaint says Max Bounty would refer them to a third-party offers site called Superb-Rewards.net. Another Page Max Bounty created claimed the company wanted free Apple iPad testers.

In Swan’s case, he had built seven applications that he used as part of his scheme, including one called Quiz.me that would access users’ profile information including their friend lists and contact details. The app would ask users survey questions which would eventually lead to a request for their mobile numbers. Facebook said that Swan would use this data to sign them up for premium mobile subscription services.

In another case, Facebook said Swan would promise free goods such as tickets to see Disney’s Alice in Wonderland movie only if users invited all of their friends to the Page.

Facebook has prevailed in earlier spam cases, winning a $711 million judgment against “Spam King” Sanford Wallace last year in what it called one of the two largest judgments in the history of the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act. The other was an $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital.

“We hate spam and phishing just as much as you do, and we work hard to keep it off Facebook,” the company said in a statement.

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