Facebook Sues Bogus Celebrity Porn Spammer
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A recidivist spammer flooded Facebook with bogus links to celebrity porn, including a fake Justin Bieber-Selena Gomez sex tape, costing the company thousands of dollars to track him down, Facebook claims in court.
Facebook sued Christopher Peter Tarquini in Federal Court, for breach of contract and violations of state and federal computer laws.
It claims that since 2008 Tarquini, of Malton, N.J., has been using self-designed software scripts - command lists that automate Internet actions - to post "deceptive messages, images and links" on Facebook users' pages.
The links direct users to non-Facebook marketing websites that earned Tarquini and his cronies "commission payments and other consideration," Facebook claims in the lawsuit. One such site "contained a doctored blurred image of what appeared to be Mr. Bieber and Ms. Gomez," according to the complaint.
"Defendant Christopher Peter Tarquini is a recidivist spammer and abuser of Facebook's services," the lawsuit states. "Tarquini orchestrated and participated in an elaborate scheme that inundated Facebook users with messages purporting to link to pornographic images of celebrities. The messages were deceptive. When Facebook users clicked on the messages, the messages (and suggestive images associates with those messages) were automatically shared with the users' Facebook friends, and the browsers of the users who clicked on the messages were redirected to marketing websites that paid Tarquini and his associates a commission for the referral traffic. In short, Facebook users who clicked on Tarquini's deceptive messages immediately, and without their knowledge or consent, became unknowing participants in and victims of Tarquini's scam."
The Bieber-Gomez image, Facebook claims, was "designed to look like a still shot from a video, and suggested to the user that clicking the image would allow access to a leaked sex tape. Instead, when the used clicked the image, the user was prompted to grant access to the user's Facebook account and allow a Platform Application to take actions on the user's behalf."
Facebook claims it "expended significant resources" to stop the abuse, and that Tarquini continued to get access to Facebook after his account was terminated.
"Even after Facebook notified Tarquini that his conduct violated Facebook's rights, and even after Facebook terminated Tarquini's Facebook account and informed Tarquini that he was no longer authorized to access Facebook's website and services, Tarquini continued to access Facebook," the complaint states.
Facebook claims it sent Tarquini a cease-and-desist letter in March, to which he responded that he had indeed created the devious software script, "Jacked."
"Tarquini responded to the March 11 letter and admitted that he had created the Jacked script that was used in the Bieber/Gomez spam campaign; admitted that he had distributed the script to a number of associates; and admitted that the Bieber/Gomez spam campaign redirected users to a non-Facebook website," the complaint states.
News of Tarquini's actions splashed across websites and blogs, Facebook says, and "tainted and continue to taint the Facebook experience for Facebook users."
"Facebook has been damaged in excess of $5,000 during a one-year period by Tarquini's actions, including by being forced to expend resources to investigate and prevent unauthorized access, and access in excess of authorization, and abuse of its computer network," the complaint states.
Facebook wants Tarquini enjoined from access to the social media network, plus disgorgement and punitive damages for breach of contract, computer fraud and abuse, and violation of California computer data access and fraud statutes.
It is represented by Brian Hennessy with Perkins Coie, of Palo Alto.