Judge Okays Spam Case For Fraudulent Facebook Pages


The federal anti-spam law applies not only to ads sent to in-boxes, but also to commercial Facebook pages, a judge has ruled.

In an opinion issued this week, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif. denied MaxBounty's motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating the spam law by creating allegedly fraudulent Facebook pages. The marketing company MaxBounty contended that such pages were not governed by the federal anti-spam law because that statute deals with "electronic messages." The company argued that electronic messages means mail to users' in-boxes.

But Fogel disagreed. "A determination that the communications at issue here are 'electronic messages' ... is consistent with the intent of Congress to mitigate the number of misleading commercial communications that overburden infrastructure of the internet," he wrote.

MaxBounty, which runs a network for affiliate marketers, was sued by Facebook last year for allegedly masterminding a plan to dupe users with Facebook pages promising "free" gift cards. Users were not only tricked into becoming fans of those pages, but also invited their friends to do so, Facebook alleged. In addition, users who visited those pages were redirected to a site that asked them to make purchase subscriptions to magazines or other material, according to Facebook.

The social-networking service also alleged that MaxBounty violated other laws, including the federal computer fraud law. MaxBounty unsuccessfully sought to dismiss that charge as well. Fogel's decision denying MaxBounty's motion to dismiss the case at a preliminary stage clears the way for Facebook to gather additional evidence to prepare for trial.


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