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This is not what Facebook Expected

By Ken Magill

Adam Guerbuez owes Facebook $873 million and he’s bragging about it.

Guerbuez was ordered last week by a court in Quebec to pay Facebook more than $1 billion (Canadian) in fines when the court upheld a ruling a California court made against the a Canadian Internet marketer.

Guerbuez was fined $100 U.S. in damages and $100 U.S. in punitive damages for each of the 4,366,386 spam messages that Facebook said he posted on users’ walls in 2008. This added up to $873,277,200. When converting this to Canadian dollars, it is $1,068,928,721.46.

The California judgment was rendered in absentia. Guerbuez claimed he couldn’t afford to fight in a foreign court.

“I don’t spam. I’ve never admitted any guilt on anything they accused me, and I won’t,” said Guerbuez, who filed for bankruptcy in August.

So Guerbuez files for bankruptcy in August and a Canadian court upholds a billion-dollar judgment against him in October. Given the circumstances, the court may have well as ordered him to pay $80 bofriggingajillioon. Facebook—now a creditor in Guerbuez’s bankruptcy proceeding— would stand just a big a chance of seeing that fine paid.

What’s more, the fine has made Guerbuez famous. He’s all over the Canadian media and reveling in it.

“Just got back from a big photo shoot, hope my eyes see properly soon, must have had huge lamps in my face for an hour, ouch,” Guerbuez posted on Twitter, where he had 1,658 followers as of yesterday.

In a CBC television interview, Guerbuez said he welcomes and planned for the publicity surrounding his case.

“This gets me out there. People know my name. People know what I do because I’m telling them what I do and they know I can get across to millions of people without paying a cent,” he said in an interview on the CBC Mark Kelly Primetime Show. “I don’t know anybody who could afford this kind of publicity if they were paying for it. … I’m everywhere. … Just type in the word ‘Adam’ on Google and I’m the third suggested result in the world.”

For the record, I typed “adam” into Google and got Adams Lambert, Sandler, Dunn and Morrison as suggested results, but not Guerbuez. 

In any case, when asked if he thought the fact that he has a billion-dollar judgment hanging over his head would make businesses hesitate to collaborate with him, Guerbuez said: “Why would that stop them? If they know the potential that I could bring to their company and their product and service, they’d love to deal with me.”

It isn’t too difficult to imagine a firm or two quietly approaching Guerbuez for consulting gigs. Then again, maybe not.

While it’s understandable that Facebook wants to send a message to would-be spammers, the Guerbuez case can’t possibly be panning out the way the social networking site’s legal team planned.

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