Facebook Sues Mobile Phone Spammers

Today Facebook filed three lawsuits alleging violations of Facebook's terms and applicable law by defendants trying to trick users into signing up for mobile subscriptions and sending spam to their friends.

Here at AllFacebook, we seem to spend a lot of time writing about various people suing Facebook – whether it’s Paul Ceglia claiming part ownership of the site, a woman with bipolar disorder suing after she was banned from Facebook, or the latest litigation for breach of privacy.

But Facebook is not afraid to use the courts either. Today the Facebook Security blog has posted news about three lawsuits that the social networking site has filed in a U.S. federal court in San Jose, California this week. The lawsuits allege violations of Facebook’s terms and applicable law by defendants trying to trick users into signing up for mobile subscriptions and sending spam to their friends.

In three separate complaints, Facebook alleges that Steven Richter, Jason Swan, and Max Bounty, Inc. used Facebook to offer enticing, but non-existent products and services. The suit claims that the defendants represented that in order to qualify for certain fake or deceptive offers, people had to spam their friends, sign up for automatic mobile phone subscription services, or provide other information. Facebook argues that this is a violation of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), and other state and federal laws.

The blog post points out that this isn’t the first time Facebook has taken spammers to court and that the site is, in fact, mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for its spam-fighting efforts. Facebook holds the record for the two largest judgments in the history of the CAN-SPAM Act – an $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital and a $711 million judgment against Sanford Wallace. A court in Montreal, Canada, where Guerbuez is based, recently ruled that the U.S. court’s judgment against him could be enforced in Canada.

“We will press on with enforcement and collection efforts against spammers and fraudsters, and we’re committed to applying continuous legal pressure to send a strong message to spammers that they’re not welcome on Facebook,” the post says. “Stay tuned as our push against spammers and scammers escalates over the next month, year and beyond. We have other actions pending, and there will be more to come.”

Meanwhile, the post reminds users to be wary of suspicious-looking posts or messages, report spam when they see it, look up tips and information on the Facebook Security Page, and take the “Stop. Think. Connect.” quiz to test their knowledge.

Spam has been a growing problem at Facebook. While suing three spammers might seem like a token effort, big judgments like the ones Facebook has secured in the past can be significant deterrents. It’s also coupled with technical fixes such as aggressive filtering and co-operative efforts on an industry level. Spam is not an easy problem to fix but there’s no doubt Facebook is taking it seriously.