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Smut spammer ordered to pay Facebook record $873 million

The never-ending war against spam scored a rare victory recently when a federal judge in San Jose, California ordered a prolific spammer to pay Facebook a whopping $873 million in damages for unleashing a torrent of unsavory messages on the social network's members.

The Associated Press reports that Adam Guerbuez, of Montreal, violated the 2003 CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, which carries up to an $11,000 fine per violation. Guerbuez was charged with tricking Facebook users into revealing their logins and then blitzing the unwitting victims with some 4 million obnoxious sexually explicit messages advertising everything from pot to supposed penis enlargement techniques.

Federal Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif., last week banned Guerbuez and his company Atlantis Blue Capital for life from joining Facebook, according to CNET News.

But the decision may be more symbolic than anything else. Max Kelly, Facebook's security director, wrote on the official Facebook blog yesterday that it's unlikely the defendant could or will fork over the entire sum, "though we will certainly collect everything we can" as well as try to safeguard users from spammers.

"Everyone who participates constructively in Facebook," he wrote, "should feel confident that we are fighting hard to protect you against spam and other online nuisances."

The $873 million judgment is the most ever awarded in a spam case. In May, spammers were ordered to fork over $234 million to MySpace.

Facebook may try to keep spam at bay, but there's little chance its security pros can save you from yourself. Check out ScientificAmerican.com's look at what your Facebook profile really says about you.

(Image by iStockphoto/Rich Legg[LeggNet])

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