Can you sue for defamation if someone calls you or your business “a spammer”? In a word: Yes. Point in case, mega-Internet-corp, Facebook, recently got slapped with a spam lawsuit — and the charge was defamation.
Profile Technology Ltd. et al. v. Facebook Inc. was filed in the California Superior Court, in San Mateo county. If Facebook loses this spam-related lawsuit, it would solidify case law with regards to the defamatory nature of being labeled a spammer.
Facebook’s Being Sued For Defamation For Allegedly Calling An App Developer “Spammy”
This time the social networking company is being sued for defamation, in a California court, by an app development firm based in New Zealand. Profile Technology Ltd. – which makes IQ tests, in addition to polling and petition apps – says Facebook “abused its power in ways that were fraudulent, oppressive and malicious” by cutting off the companies access to an automated data crawling feature and sending users to links that insinuated Profile Technology produced “spammy” and “unsafe” products.
Over the years, Profile Technology had aggregated 400 million member profiles, which translated into 15 billion connections across the digital spectrum.
Profile technology swears they were unexpectedly shut down by Facebook after the parties couldn’t agree on a contract. Now, here’s where things get a little foggy. At first, Facebook spokespeople said they never had an agreement with Profile Technology. The app company says the opposite; according to them, Facebook “flip flopped and demanded revisions in the contract terms so drastic that they would have amounted to delivery to Facebook of all rights with respect to plaintiffs’ technology and information.”
Essentially, Profile Technology’s argument is: the abrupt cut-off, coupled with the Facebook’s “dismissal” announcement methods, caused the company to lose business and industry respect. Specifically, the plaintiffs are alleging that:
- Facebook published statements asserting that “links” (HTML hyperlinks) to Plaintiffs’ site at “profileengine.com” have “been blocked for being spammy or unsafe.”
- The “spam” accusations “imply that plaintiffs have maliciously abused the world’s shared Internet resources” and that “’Spammy’ conduct merits condemnation and shunning in the Internet community to which plaintiffs belong.”
Profile Technology is demanding a jury trial. In addition to defamation, the app development firm is also suing for breach of contract, interference with business relationships, defamation and unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices.
Can You Sue Someone For Saying You’re A Spammer?
Back in the day, defamation lawsuits were of the old-skool variety — politicians calling each other names in public and religious luminaries being offended by adult entertainment moguls. But the more tech-y we get, the more Internet-related defamation lawsuits we see.
And yes, these days, being labeled a spammer could do some serious damage to your business. Many judges and juries are starting to reflect their understanding of that reality by handing down verdicts in favor of the defamed party. Now, in the United States, truth is a strong defense against defamation. As such, it’s important for online marketers and businesses to review the CAN-SPAM Act to ensure they aren’t, technically, spammers.
If you’re in need of an online defamation lawyer, get in touch. Our team of attorneys has considerable experience with Internet defamation litigation. An AV-rated firm, with a 10 out of 10 rating on the respected lawyer review website, AVVO.com, Kelly / Warner has earned a reputation for being one of the top online defamation law firms in the industry. Contact us today to begin the conversation.