Facebook takes aim at ‘Justin Bieber sex tape’ spammers

Like maggots, vultures, and parasites, spammers flock to stuff they can feed on – and social networks are fertile grown for spreading viruses and wreaking havoc. But Facebook is taking a hard line against spammers and pursuing legal action. 

Facebook filed a complaint to the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California against alleged New Jersey-based spammer Christopher Peter Tarquini, accusing him of a number of malicious activities. The most egregious: Facebook claims Tarquini used a malicious software script called “Jacked” to spread fake links promoting a sex tape between actress Selena Gomez and terrible Canadian Justin Bieber. When Facebook users clicked on these links, lured by the promise of teen heartthrob fornication, they were redirected to third-party websites Facebook alleges Tarquini owns, and the act of clicking on the link automatically posted the link to the user’s wall, spreading the spam (and probably embarrassing people who didn’t want their curiosity about the pairing to go public). Facebook is also accusing Tarquini of running programs that trick users into giving up their security information. 

According to Naked Security, Facebook tracked Tarquini down and sent him a cease-and-desist letter, but the spamming continued unabated, even after he allegedly admitted that he created the malicious scripts – so they took it to court. This litigious approach shows that Zuckerberg’s digital kingdom isn’t going to accept its spam problem without a fight. Facebook has sued spammers in the past and succeeded; in 2009, the social network was awarded a $711 million settlement from a spammer named Sanford Wallace. This time around, Facebook wants compensation for the money it spent tracking Tarquini down, so it won’t get as hefty a settlement. It’s likely that the company wants to send a message to other spammers that it will pursue legal action even if it’s not looking for a big payout. 

Even the most diligent platform will eventually have bots and malware problems. This has happened on all of the major social networks, from Facebook to Twitter to up-and-coming services like Snapchat and Vine. This latest legal maneuver from Facebook highlights that the most popular social network remains dedicated to rooting out these persistent pests. 

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