I’ve been reading Jerk.com for the past half hour, attempting to figure out what it is before writing this story. From the look of it now, it’s just a blog wordpress blog that has short, badly edited stories about people who are jerks in other people’s lives.
Then, I checked it out through Archive.org, and I saw what the FTC is talking about, what it was before its legal troubles. The site used to have pictures and stories about people and users could vote on if someone was a jerk or not. It was kind of like the old “Hot or Not” sites that were popular in the late 90s, only instead of judging a person’s appearance, they judged a person’s character based off of the stories posted about them, along with whatever photographic evidence Jerk.com obtained.
The FTC alleges that the site, founded by Napster co-founder John Fanning, improperly used user data and info into misleading viewers into thinking the profiles were created by other users. Furthermore, the FTC says that Fanning created fake Facebook pages in order to get access to that user information.
“We were equally horrified to discover that Facebook is placing personal information from its users including name, and photographs in the pubic domain without requiring any agreement to its terms of service where anyone can acquire it,”
The website did claim that people who found their profile on Jerk.com could pay $30 to revise it, something the FTC says was also false. Allegedly, users often paid the fee for “premium” features and got nothing in return.
We will have to wait and see how this all plays out in court.
[Photo Credit: Archive.org]