MONTREAL – A Montreal man who sent more than four million spam e-mails to Facebook users over a two-month period was ordered to pay the social media giant more than $1 billion in compensation.
Adam Guerbuez did not admit to sending the spam. But he also did not contest the Sept. 28 Superior Court ruling, which upheld an earlier decision by a U.S. District Court judge in San Jose, Calif.
Guerbuez was fined $100 US for each of the 4,366,386 spam messages that were posted onto Facebook profiles in March and April 2008. With punitive damages and the exchange rate factored in, Guerbuez owes $1,068,928,721.46. He’s also barred from opening a Facebook account.
The self-described online marketer says Facebook will have difficulty collecting the sum now that he has filed for bankruptcy.
Facebook says Guerbuez posed as a friend and posted ads for various products on a user’s wall, an area of the online profile page where users share website links, pictures and other information.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Lise Fournier wrote in her ruling that the barrage of spam was unprecedented.
“Facebook had never been targeted by as much spam and the method used was particularly efficient given that the spam appeared to be coming from users’ friends,” the judge wrote last week.
According to Facebook, Guerbuez fooled its users into providing him with their usernames and passwords. One method was the use of fake websites that posed as legitimate destinations.
After Guerbuez gained access to user’s personal profiles, he used computer programs to send out millions of messages promoting a variety of products, including marijuana and penis-enlargement products, Facebook said.
Fournier wrote that Guerbuez has earned “very significant revenues” from his online business.
Guerbuez argued that the fine was excessive, adding that spam is nothing more than a nuisance.
“If there’s anything that does hit my e-mail box that I didn’t ask to receive, I’ll simply press the delete button,” he said in a statement posted on his website.
“That’s what it’s on the keyboard for.”