THE SPAM KING HAS NO CLOTHES
California federal Judge Jeremy Fogel, today, found in favor of the social networking site Facebook.com in a spam case awarding it $711 million dollars in financial damages against the well known “Spam King” Sanford Wallace.
Wallace was found in violation of the 2003 Can-Spam Act which set up harsh penalties for illegal spamming. The Spam King set the record for the highest fines for spanning when in 2003, News Corporation’s Myspace.com was awarded a $234 million settlement.
In November of 2008, Facebook won $873 million in damages against two spammers taking the record for the highest damages received under the anti-spamming laws of 2003 but the Wallace/Facebook case still holds the record for highest damages for an individual spammer.
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
Facebook.com has reaped a pretty sum with the case against Wallace although the sought a much higher sum. Originally, the social networking site’s legal team requested $7 billion in damages citing the 2003 Can-Spam act as well as the California business code as justification.
Judge Jeremy Fogel saw their figure as dramatically high and awarded the $711 million that was ultimately ruled. The ruling still made the dramatic point, that social networks are seriously cracking down against unwanted advertising.
The crackdown on these virus like advertisers, known as spammers, seems like an effort for social networks to remove ads from their sites but one look at the social networking scenes top players and one can easily see that is not the case.
POP UP BLOCKER
Don’t get me wrong: spamming is not only illegal, it is annoying and sometimes frustrating to deal with but, if anyone takes this case as a social networks stopping the infiltration of ads, he or she is simply wrong.
Myspace, Facebook, and other top sites in the social networking world are now thriving on ads and their agenda in recent months/years has been to cross promote products and other media rather than enhance the user experience.
The home page of Myspace in recent years is literally a sea of advertising, and just finding the log in station is a chore.
Any website that wishes to operate on ad revenue needs to have many pages and have its users constantly clicking, social networks by design follow this format.
Inhibiting the movement with mandatory ads slows down a user and will make them see less advertising.
Users are always moving between pages and in the process, are getting hit with ads. If these sites want to make money the focus should be on speed not slowing us down with commercials.
A REASONABLE QUESTION
If organizations like Facebook can get so enraged about unwarranted advertising on their pages, what about the users’ feelings about facebook’s advertising.
What if we don’t like the constant, invasive ads creeping on or on the side of our daily home pages?
A social network is defined by its users and has a democratic streak to its core. Websites like facebook and myspace are only as powerful as its user base. Networking allows every individual with a computer to have a small slice of the net to their own perspective.
If Facebook and Myspace can get these large settlements against spammers maybe we can humbly request that the analytic advertising can be toned down.
I would rather deal with spam that even a six year old can tell is advertising than have to deal with Facebook’s ever increasing user customized ads.
One of the main reasons, a whole generation of media consumers left television and traditional media was that they could have control over the content that they watched or read over the Internet. If we have to go through a mountain of mandatory ads and flash based advertising that sometimes distracts users from important news, then what is the difference?
Social Networks should focus more on making a user’s experience better and with that goal in mind the ad revenue will come. The more profiles, pages, and forums are clicked on the more ads people will see.
Bombarding the flow of information with commercials will just turn users off, making them flock to another site before its corrupted with corporate greed.
I’m not advocating that sites like Myspace or Facebook should abandon their business plans and be pro-bono but they shouldn’t abandon their role as an information and social host. The time when ads block that flow, is the time when they have stopped being social networks.
Google has enhanced their users’ experiences without inhibiting their sessions with 15 minutes of ads. The settlement against Wallace has helped users avoid the ad clutter. However, we must not ignore the efforts of social networks themselves to move in this direction. As users we must take a stand that both spamming and restrictive advertising is not ok.