Even aside from concerns about Facebook and privacy, the people who set up this business must truly be, well, jerks ….
On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of the website “Jerk.com” with harvesting personal information from Facebook to create profiles labeling people a “Jerk” or “not a Jerk,” then falsely claiming that consumers could revise their online profiles by paying $30. According to the FTC’s complaint, between 2009 and 2013 the defendants, Jerk, LLC and John Fanning, the operator of the website, created Jerk.com profiles for more than 73 million people, including children.
The FTC’s press release explains that Jerk.com “allegedly used Facebook’s application programming interfaces to download the names and photos of millions of Facebook users, which they in turn used to create nearly all the Jerk.com profiles. In addition to buttons that allowed users to vote on whether a person was a 'Jerk' or not, Jerk profiles included fields in which users could enter personal information about the subject or post comments about them. … The profiles also included millions of photos, including photos of children and photos that consumers claim they had designated on Facebook as private.”