The Federal Government Is Charging Jerk.com With Deceiving Customers

FTC says the social-networking site secretly took information from Facebook to create user profiles.

National Journal
Laura Ryan
See more stories about...
Laura Ryan
April 7, 2014, 11:26 a.m.

The so­cial-net­work­ing site Jerk.com secretly took in­form­a­tion from Face­book to la­bel mil­lions “a jerk” and “not a jerk,” the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion said Monday.

FTC is seek­ing an or­der to stop Jerk.com from us­ing im­prop­erly ob­tained per­son­al in­form­a­tion and to re­quire the web­site to de­lete the in­form­a­tion. An ad­min­is­trat­ive judge will hear the case next Janu­ary.

In what FTC called a “brazen at­tempt to ex­ploit” peoples’ con­cerns about their on­line repu­ta­tion, the con­sumer-pro­tec­tion agency charged Jerk.com and its op­er­at­or, Nap­ster cofounder John Fan­ning, with de­ceiv­ing more than 73 mil­lion con­sumers.

Between 2009 and 2013, the FTC says, mil­lions of Amer­ic­ans searched them­selves on search en­gines to find out that they had been labeled either a “Jerk” or “not a jerk” on Jerk.com. Adding in­sult to in­jury, the web­site told con­sumers that they would have to pay a fee to re­vise their pro­file.

Vis­it­ors to the site be­lieved that that their pro­files were made by oth­er users, but most pro­files were ac­tu­ally cre­ated from in­form­a­tion har­ves­ted sur­repti­tiously from Face­book, ac­cord­ing to the FTC.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the agency said that the site told con­sumers that they could pay $30 to amend their pro­file or $25 to con­tact cus­tom­er ser­vice, but those who did shell out money “re­ceived noth­ing” in ex­change for their pay­ment.

Pro­files in­cluded pho­tos and de­tailed per­son­al in­form­a­tion, in­clud­ing name, ad­dress, con­tact in­form­a­tion, and even So­cial Se­cur­ity num­bers in some cases.

Jerk.com also let users vote on wheth­er or not a per­son was a jerk and al­lowed for per­son­al com­ments on user pro­files. Com­ments were gen­er­ally un­kind, such as, “Omg I hate this kid he’s such a loser,” and, “Nobody in their right mind would love you “¦ not even your par­ents love [you].”

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
2 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×