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FTC charges Napster co-founder over Jerk.com Facebook user shakedown

Exploiters exploits are curtailed
Wed Apr 09 2014, 15:22
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THE UNITED STATES Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged people that ran a website called Jerk.com and acted like jerks to Facebook users.

The FTC investigated the Jerk.com website because from 2009 through 2013 it grabbed data and images from Facebook, posted them online and made the victims look stupid. The owner of Jerk.com is Napster co-founder John Fanning and is named in the FTC charges.

Jerk.com would label people as jerks or otherwise, and had profiles on 73 million people, including children, according to the FTC.

Jerks and non-jerks were told that they could edit their profiles that they didn't create, for $30. No one, neither consumers nor the FTC, liked this very much.

The FTC said that while the website made it look as though its victims' contacts had deemed them jerk-like, or not, and created their profiles, this was not true. It offered victims the chance to subscribe to a premium account for $30 in order to change their profiles. Jerk is one word, but there are stronger ones that were used to describe that business model.

"In today's interconnected world, people are especially concerned about their reputation online, and this deceptive scheme was a brazen attempt to exploit those concerns," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC bureau of consumer protection upon announcing the charges.

Being featured on the Jerk.com website does not sound like it was much fun, and the FTC said that profiles would be daubed with insulting statements and suggestions that the victims had faces that only a mother could love. Jerk.com allegedly specialised in this activity to make money.

The FTC has recently filed the charges. The case is expected to be heard early next year. µ

 

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