Feeds

Napster cofounder's Jerk.com accused of acting like ... err ... jerks

Site charged with seeking payments to clear smear profiles

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on a site they say lifted user information to create smear profiles on a for-profit reputation site.

The FTC said that the operators of Jerk.com (which appears to have since been taken down) harvested data from millions of Facebook users to create profiles without permission, and then charged users to clear unflattering information.

In a complaint seeking to bar the site from using any of the collected data and further engaging in deceptive practices, the Commission claims that Jerk.com used fraudulent developer profiles to access user profile data from the Facebook API. The lifted information was then used to create profiles on the Jerk.com website.

It should be noted that an FTC complaint does not constitute formal criminal charges against the company or its management.

The FTC claims that upon visiting the Jerk.com site, users could view pages that were said to have been created by users but were in fact constructed from pilfered Facebook pictures and data. The profiles included options to label the user as a "jerk" or "not a jerk". Those who wanted to clear the "jerk" tag and other allegations were asked to purchase a $30 membership fee.

Even when users paid the fee, the FTC claims that the site would not delete all of the potentially damaging information.

Among those listed in the complaint is Napster cofounder John Fanning, who is named as the operator of the site and the head of parent company Jerk LLC.

A 2013 filing [PDF] by the LLC in response to the FTC investigation claims that all content on the site is user-generated and submitted, and that investigations into the company were in fact a "fishing expedition" targeting the company. Jerk LLC claimed that in 2012 it netted a mere $3,000 in revenues and convinced just 22 people to subscribe to its paid options.

The FTC, however, counters that the site built its profiles by lifting data from the Facebook profiles of some 75 million people, including children and users who had marked their photos and information as private.

The complaint, if not settled, is scheduled to go before a judge for formal hearing in January of next year. In the meantime, the Jerk.com service has been taken down. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.