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 »
A DHS report "found gaping holes in domestic nuclear detection and defense capabilities and massive failures during covert testing." A team put in place to assess our readiness capabilities found significant issues in detecting dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials, failing to do so in 30 percent of covert tests conducted over the course of the year. In far too many cases, the person operating the detection device had no idea how to use it. And when the operator did get a hit, he or she relayed sensitive information over unsecured open radio channels."
Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.
Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."