Facebook added nearly $1 billion to its imaginary coffers Friday when a federal judge ordered a spammer to pay the social networking company $837 million in damages, the largest fine ever issued under the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2004.
Canadian Adam Guerbuez and his company Atlantis Blue Capital were found liable for statutory damages and aggravated statutory damages totaling $437 million each related to an Atlantis Blue Capital junk e-mail campaign conducted in March and April of this year. Guerbuez was sued in the U.S. Court for Northern California by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook for spamming the Web site's users with some 4 million e-mail ads for marijuana, male enhancement and assorted sexual propositions.
The $873 million awarded by Judge Jeremy Fogel is nearly triple Facebook's estimated revenues for 2008.
Facebook, famously valued at more than $15 billion by Microsoft in 2007 despite revenues at the time of about 1 percent of that figure, does not expect to collect the settlement in full, admitted the company's director of security in a blog post Monday.
"Does Facebook expect to quickly collect $873 million and share the proceeds in some way with our users? Alas, no. It's unlikely that Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital could ever honor the judgment rendered against them -- though we will certainly collect everything we can," wrote Max Kelly, Facebook's director of security.
Guerbuez was also banned from accessing Facebook, a social networking Web site founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg.
In May, Facebook rival MySpace was awarded $234 million in damages in a similar spamming judgment.