A typical Jerk.com profile, where visitors can vote on whether a particular person is or is not a jerk as well as fill in supplementary, personally identifying information.
As of Monday, the FTC has charged the website Jerk.com with taking data from Facebook and using it to create millions of disparaging profiles that it would then charge $30 to remove or edit. The trick was that paying money didn’t actually give access to anything, and Jerk appears to have been scamming its “customers.”
According to the filing, the “purported social networking site” started in 2009. Its founders said it was populated with user-generated profiles: a person’s first and last name displayed alongside voting buttons for “jerk” or “not a jerk.” The profiles had space where any user could add other details like age, address, employer, phone numbers, or license plates. The profiles also included a comments section where users could talk about the person in question.
According to the FTC, some of this information was scraped from Facebook for an estimated “24 to 33.5 million profiles,” a few million of which contain a photo of a child under the age of 10. The kicker was that, when people would discover Jerk profiles of themselves or people they knew, the Jerk website would tell them they could “subscribe” for $30 and then be able to dispute the profiles. However, after paying, the FTC states that “in numerous instances, consumers who paid for a standard membership received nothing from [the site’s owners] in exchange.” Jerk then charged a $25 fee to e-mail the “customer service” department.
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