Facebook Wins $650.5 Million Judgment Against Spammer

A federal court in San Jose, California ruled in Facebook's favor this week, permanently blocking spammer Philip Porembski from the site and ordering him to pay $360.5 million in punitive damages to the company.

Facebook has claimed a huge victory in the war against spam: A federal court in San Jose, California ruled in the social network’s favor this week, permanently blocking spammer Philip Porembski from the site and ordering him to pay $360.5 million in punitive damages to the company.

Porembski’s company, PP Web Services LLC, had hijacked more than 160,000 social network accounts and sent more than 7.2 million spam messages to users of the social network. These missives included links to what techies would call phishing sites, which asked for the recipient’s Facebook login information. That data was used to spam all of the user’s friends. Some of the communiques also redirected people to sites that Porembski earned affiliate commissions from.

Facebook had received more than 8,000 complaints about Porembski’s spam, and at least 4,500 people closed their accounts on the social network because of this spamming.

All of these messages created a digital trail leading law enforcement to Porembski’s computer in Sacramento, which conatined login information for Facebook users, plus automated spamming scripts.

Everything that ensued from the pinpointing of Porembski has been focused on putting him out of the spam business for good. He probably can’t afford to pay the $360 million fine, but that judgment allows Facebook to put a lien on all of his past, present and future earnings.

And while Porembski’s fine seems like a lot of money, Facebook has won more than twice that much in the largest judgment ever against a spammer — noted in the Guinness Book of World Records: a $873 million judgment against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital. The social network also had the second biggest such win, a $711 million judgment against Sanford Wallace, who people in the business consider the original king of spam.

Again, this type of win doesn’t result in the spammers taking out loans to pay Facebook, but rather enables the social network to tie up the wrongdoers’ finances into perpetuity. Now is it possible for them to create new aliases and start from scratch to send spam? What do you think about Facebook’s strategy in pursuing spammers? How might the legal system streamline the pursuit of spammers? And what about individual users of the social network — do they need to step up their reporting of spam they receive?