A California court ruled yesterday that social media site Power.com breached the Can-Spam Act and state criminal law when it induced Facebook users to send promotional messages to their friends.
The case began in 2008 when Facebook sued Caymen Islands-based Power Ventures over a scheme that offered $100 to users who signed up 100 of their friends for Power.com, a site that allowed people to link their social media accounts.
If a user agreed to take part in the promotion, Power.com would scrape their Facebook address books and send an email from “facebook.com” to encourage their friends to sign up.
In his order, U.S. District Judge James Ware rejected Power.com’s argument that the messages were not spam because they originated from Facebook’s own servers. He concluded that this was a technicality and that Power.com violated the Can-Spam Act because it had written and launched the email campaign.
The court also found that Power.com violated California criminal law and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by circumventing Facebook’s efforts to screen the emails.
Judge Ware scheduled further proceedings to determine what Power.com must pay and whether its founder is personally liable for the action. The site current appears to be out of business; the top of its website has a message that the name is for sale.
Craig Clark, Facebook’s Lead Litigation Counsel, provided the following statement, “We are pleased that the court ruled in our favor. We will continue to enforce our rights against bad actors who attempt to circumvent Facebook’s privacy and security protections and spam people.”