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  1. #1
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    getting email addresses from facebook - illegal or legal?
    Not exactly sure what the verdict is on this, but if somebody has their email address listed on facebook, is it illegal to take their address and start sending monthly/ weekly newsletters?

  2. #2
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    It does not matter where you find an email address, sending unsolicited material is SPAM and a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act*.

    *Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
    It does not matter where you find an email address, sending unsolicited material is SPAM and a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act*.

    *Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003
    I know most people think that but I don't think that's actually the case -

    "The CAN-SPAM Act is occasionally referred to as the "You-Can-Spam" Act because the bill explicitly legitimizes many types of e-mail spam. In particular, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003

    I guess that's kind of like the stuff we get in the regular mail.

    To me it's spam, to most people it's spam. I wouldn't do it and I think it should be illegal but I'm not sure it is. What I posted above is what I can find, looking some more, unless somebody has something else where it flat out says that's illegal.
    Last edited by Trust; October 28th, 2010 at 10:00 PM.

  4. #4
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    I know most people think that but I don't think that's actually the case -

    "The CAN-SPAM Act is occasionally referred to as the "You-Can-Spam" Act because the bill explicitly legitimizes many types of e-mail spam. In particular, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003

    I guess that's kind of like the stuff we get in the regular mail.

    To me it's spam, to most people it's spam. I wouldn't do it and I think it should be illegal but I'm not sure it is. What I posted above is what I can find, looking some more, unless somebody has something else where it flat out says that's illegal.
    WOW - You're right. I guess I never really looked at the CAN-SPAM Act itself before, but only saw what others SAID it did (or thought it did).

    NjDank - never-mind
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I wonder why the email services have you swear that everyone has opted (and preferably double-opted) in to your list if it's not required? I wonder why networks and merchants boot you for sending spam if it's OK? It is too confusing for me.

  6. #6
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    Same thing AffiliateHound linked too - The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business | BCP Business Center

    I really do think they look at it like junk mail/snail mail we get in the mailbox. Like this site says:

    Permission / Opt-In Requirement

    No, the CAN-SPAM Act allows direct marketing email messages to be sent to anyone, without permission, until the recipient explicitly requests that they cease ("opt-out").

    Opt-In Laws in the USA and EU - L-Soft

    Even looking at old threads when this came out 7 years ago like this one -

    "The bill does not ban unsolicited commercial e-mail. Instead, it requires that marketers remove customers from their lists when requested. Marketers are required to include a physical address and valid opt-out mechanism in messages along with an honest subject line and notice that the messages are ads. The law holds advertisers responsible for commercial e-mail sent on their behalf."

    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showt...light=spam+act

    So looks like you can as long as you follow the other requirements listed.
    Last edited by Trust; October 28th, 2010 at 11:27 PM.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Geez, now what did I do with all those forwards my sister sends me, must have about 2,000 email addresses on them.

  8. #8
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    From top to bottom, the whole thing is interesting. I use MailChimp exclusively as my email platform for multiple professional email lists I have. Mailchimp plays it about as close to the vest as it comes regarding Opt IN. They even do double opt in for all the forms you can use for "free" through their service.

    You can, however, import your own lists through excel spread sheets, CSV, whatever. No verification is required.

    Now, if you send a blast and get an unsubscribe rate greater than 2%, or a spam complaint rate greater than 1%, you're going to get a nasty-gram from MailChimp. Reason being, it doesn't matter if it's illegal or not, ISP's can still shut down email from an IP block. So MailChimp's servers are in jeopardy EVEN IF you comply with the CAN-SPAM act.

    On the other hand, the plus side of partnering with a quality ESP like MailChimp is that they have ultra-high deliverability rates because they do police the double opt in.

    So in the end, it's up to you Unless you're running a server out of your house, you answer to someone.
    Last edited by Kevin; October 28th, 2010 at 11:43 PM.
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  9. #9
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    wow Thanks for the insight. I have read CAN-SPAM Act prior to this message and did not notice anything like that, but wasn't sure if there was some other act out there. It's not as bad, because it spells out the legit way to do it.

    The only question that I now have is in regards to a physical address. Does a P.O. Box count?

  10. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Yes, they do consider a PO Box to be a physical address. That was one ambiguity in the original law, but they've since clarified that.
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  11. #11
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Email harvesting IS a violation of the CANSPAM Act.

      • (1) Address harvesting and dictionary attacks-

        • (A) IN GENERAL- It is unlawful for any person to initiate the transmission, to a protected computer, of a commercial electronic mail message that is unlawful under subsection (a), or to assist in the origination of such message through the provision or selection of addresses to which the message will be transmitted, if such person had actual knowledge, or knowledge fairly implied on the basis of objective circumstances, that--

          • (i) the electronic mail address of the recipient was obtained using an automated means from an Internet website or proprietary online service operated by another person, and such website or online service included, at the time the address was obtained, a notice stating that the operator of such website or online service will not give, sell, or otherwise transfer addresses maintained by such website or online service to any other party for the purposes of initiating, or enabling others to initiate, electronic mail messages; or

          • (ii) the electronic mail address of the recipient was obtained using an automated means that generates possible electronic mail addresses by combining names, letters, or numbers into numerous permutations.
    So yes it is illegal to take people's addresses from Facebook and start sending them newsletters, etc even if you follow all the other CANSPAM criteria such as subject line, opt out link, address, etc.

    What you are talking about doing is email harvesting.

    It is also against Facebooks TOS (in more than one area). Read the lawsuits Facebook just filed themselves against 3 parties who were spamming via FB and read the relevant parts on how FB is spelling out the alleged CANSPAM violations.

  12. #12
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    not if its not automated....aka using tools or 3rd parties to collect that information.

    If I simply had friends and took their email address and added it onto the list, that seems to be legal.

  13. #13
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    You want to risk a $16,000/spam fine and have the resources for an attorney..go for it. But if I were you, I'd get a legal opinion on how that part of the CANSPAM act is being enforced. The FTC is clear in their guidelines that CANSPAM doesn't apply to just bulk email, it can apply to just one email.

    Anyway, it is clearly against Facebook's TOS. You can certainly risk your FB account as well. And FB has filed civil suits against people who spammed via their platform.

    You may be risking your friends as well. Why not just ask them to join your newsletter?

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    If I was you I would read the FB TOS reeeal good.

  15. #15
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    I wouldn't be utilizing facebooks email for my newsletter, however attaining the friends email address that they have listed within their profile. I would be sending emails to their registerred address that they have publicly listed.

    There is no breach in facebooks tos.

  16. #16
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Again...read Facebook's TOS and advertising TOS and there's a third one I don't remember the name of offhand. It really doesn't matter to Facebook that you bring it to another domain from theirs. In fact, doing that strenghtens their case for a CANSPAM violation.

    You should also probably read your ISP's TOS. Nothing like getting your email account/domain on a spam blacklist.

    Seriously, what is the benefit to risk ratio really for you? How much will you benfit from manualing harvesting (although a copy/paste could be construed as an automation) email addys? Response to spam emails is very low. It only really works if you are sending out in mass quantity. How much will you make? How many people will you lose as friends on FB? Will some one report you for abuse to FB? Will someone report the email through the FTC's spam reporting system (just have to forward it to them)? Will someone report it to your ISP? Will it be reported to your hosting company? Are you on a spam friendly hosting company?

    If the potential benefits outweigh risks for you, then knock yourself out.

    If this is a strategy you got from an ebook for list building, then I'd suggest deleting that ebook from your computer.

  17. #17
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    I would agree that the risks probably out weights the benefits of this strategy. Not only legally, but also very dangerous to your company's reputation. Facebook users use FB specifically for socializing and having fun, so I would think they would be quick to strike down anyone pretending to be part of their network. Even if they don't take legal action, they could slam your program across the internet and potential hurt your company's good name.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Need to read the networks' and merchants' TOS too. Many will boot you for even one spam complaint.

  19. #19
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    I will get their information via this: Facebook for Websites - Facebook Developers and it is legal to send them emails (take a look at the "process" image)

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Registration + Login — With a single dialog, you can access data including a user's real name, email address, profile picture and list of friends. Replace or supplement your user account system with Facebook to help drive signups and improve data quality.
    (from your link)
    This is a completely different scenario than you had originally asked about here:
    Not exactly sure what the verdict is on this, but if somebody has their email address listed on facebook, is it illegal to take their address and start sending monthly/ weekly newsletters?
    If you are planning to integrate FB features with your site, anyone who signs up on your site is manually opting in to receive your emails and they are being informed of that fact.

  21. #21
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    You are correct, totally different. This route is just that much better.

  22. #22
    Newbie Attorney Jaffe's Avatar
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    The posts above are correct, there is no law against sending unsolicited commercial email as long as you follow the guidelines contained in the Can-Spam Act of 2003.

    Email Marketing Laws – The Do’s and Don’ts of Can-Spam
    In an effort to better inform you on the contents of the Can-Spam Act of 2003, I have written a simple synopsis of the act, sort of a Do’s and Don’ts list. Lawyers are always hesitant to create a Do’s and Don’ts list because sometimes it is not black and white, it is Gray. A good example of “gray” in the current law is the requirement to provide, “clear and conspicuous identification that the message is an advertisement or solicitation”. Certainly, preceding your subject with “ADV:” would satisfy this requirement. However, putting a disclaimer in your message would also satisfy the law in an altogether different way, and one which you might rather use.

    Under the act it is a felony punishable with jail terms, fines and forfeitures:
    1. To use proxies or relays to send your mail,
    2. To falsify your header (by definition, you are falsifying your headers if you purposely disguise the e-mail’s origin), or
    3. If you falsify the registration information when buying domains or setting up e-mail accounts, or when registering for IP addresses.

    The act goes on to list civil penalties unless you take the following actions to conform to the requirements of the law:

    1. Your header information and registration information has to be true and correct.
    2. You must have a valid from address, registered with true and correct information.
    3. You cannot use a subject line that would be likely to mislead the recipient about the contents of the e-mail.
    4. You must have a conspicuous opt-out mechanism which works for 30 days after the mailing is completed. (This can be at your website).
    5. You must honor your opt-outs within 10 days of request.
    6. Your message must have a conspicuous identification that it is an advertisement.
    7. The message must contain a valid physical postal address of the sender.
    8. You must not use recipient addresses that were obtained using an address harvester or by means of a dictionary attack. (Triple damages apply.)
    9. You cannot use automated means to register for multiple e-mail addresses.
    10. Sexually orientated material will require special marks of content.
    11. Customers who know their products are being sold in violation of the act are also held to be liable.

    There is really no way for an individual to sue a spammer under this act, only the State or the Feds, or an ISP that has suffered a loss. The act supersedes State internet laws, but with many exceptions.
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    11. Customers who know their products are being sold in violation of the act are also held to be liable.
    This is the reason that merchants and networks can and will terminate your account for spam complaints. They don't like being liable for the poor judgment of others.

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