MySpace had a serious secret weapon when it came to fighting the bad guys – Director of Security Enforcement E.J. Hilbert. Hilbert, a former Cyber and Counterterrorism Special Agent for the FBI, defended MySpace against spammers, scammers, hackers, virus spreaders and other lowlife from 2007 until earlier this month when he left the company.
Our understanding is that he resigned, and was not part of the mass layoffs last week. Either way, it was a real loss for MySpace. His name was brought up repeatedly by MySpace staffers over the years with a sort of awe – he was the defender of the castle, their FBI agent in the back room watching over everyone. And right now, with Hilbert gone, the MySpace castle is in desperate need of a defender.
Hilbert never claimed to be able to get rid of all the spam on MySpace – but his team was able to cut 98% of it. Spam king Scott Richter/Media Breakaway was one of his favorite targets and the subject of a MySpace lawsuit in 2007/2008 ($ 4.8 million in damages and $ 1.2 million in attorney’s fees was awarded to MySpace). His team also fought phishing experts Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines, and MySpace won a $230 million judgement in that case (I don’t believe that was ever paid though).
The rumor around MySpace is that the real value of Hilbert and his team was fighting the even darker stuff that a site of MySpace’s size had to deal with. Little of that ever made it to a press release.
Hilbert has started a new yet-to-launch company called Online Intelligence to help clean up the online advertising world (which desperately needs it). If I were Facebook, I’d just make Hilbert an offer he couldn’t refuse. Spam, phishing and advertising fraud are all common on the site. My guess is Hilbert could tackle those problems better than anyone else in the world.