On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel awarded Facebook $711 million in damages against Sanford Wallace, also known as the “Spam King.” According to Facebook, Wallace and two others created Facebook memberships and then used those memberships to “spam” and “phish” other Facebook members. The scheme involved sending Facebook members a link to a site that paid Wallace for traffic. Facebook argued that Wallace’s scheme caused some 14 million violations of the Federal law known as CAN-SPAM.
Wallace did not appear in court for scheduled hearings, leading Judge Vogel to refer Wallace to the U.S. Attorney’s office for contempt charges. Fogel further said that Wallace violated the law “with blatant disregard” for the rights of Facebook and its members. However, Fogel rejected Facebook’s request for $7.5 billion in damages.
While Facebook’s case against Wallace was a success (at 14 million violations of CAN-SPAM, the judge awarded Facebook almost $51 million per violation), Facebook’s fortunes in its ongoing privacy battle with Canada are not gleaming quite so brightly. In July, Canada became the first country to reign in Facebook’s information-sharing system, stating that it violated Canada’s stringent privacy laws. Given that Facebook has some 12 million members in Canada, over one-third of the country’s total population, Canada’s “poke” was a striking move in support of privacy. At the time, it was widely reported by Facebook spokespersons that an agreement could be worked out.