“Jerk” website jerk.com is in legal trouble with the Federal Trade Commission, who have brought a lawsuit against the Jerk.com founder and co-founder of the now defunct site Napster, John Fanning, stating that Fanning "improperly harvested personal information from Facebook" to create the site’s user profiles.
Who’s a jerk now?
According to the FTC complaint, read here in its entirety, Jerk LLC “violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act” by claiming that its website contained “only user generated content,” but that respondents actually “created or caused to be created the vast majority of Jerk profiles using information from Facebook.”
Users then were forced to pay a $30 fee if they wanted to log in and be granted privileges to “revise” their status.
Jessica Rich, director for the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, called the alleged scheme a “brazen attempt” to take advantage of users’ concerns about their online reputations. In essence, users were hamstrung and made to pay to change their Jerk.com status to “Not a Jerk” or to argue against the judgmental posts that were lobbied against them on their profiles.
“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,” Rich said in her statement.
Cnet.com picks up the story:
To get the Facebook data, Jerk.com's operators allegedly tapped into Facebook's application programming interfaces and built apps that were able to download the names and photos of millions of people.
In March 2012, when Facebook realized that Jerk.com was violating its terms of service by using apps to scrape user data, the social network disabled some of their apps and sent the site a cease and desist letter. At that time, Facebook also began cooperating with the FTC in its investigation of Jerk.com.
“We take breaches of our terms seriously,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. “We applaud the FTC and will continue to work with them as they pursue Jerk.com and others that seek to abuse people who use our service.”
The IP Watchdog, back in 2012, had this to say about Jerk.com in conjunction with cyberbullying:
Jerk.com is perhaps the most abusive and offensive website on the Internet. In addition to encouraging the voting on whether people are jerks they allow the most vile commentary to be published. I can’t think of anything else to call this other than cyberbullying. Not only are they engaging in widespread harassment of unsuspecting, innocent and helpless individuals — INCLUDING CHILDREN — but they are also engaged in widespread copyright infringement.
While Jerk.com’s website still comes up, when users attempt to register or log in, they are currently being greeted with a blank page.