recommended reading

The Federal Government Is Charging Jerk.com With Deceiving Customers

jesadaphorn/Shutterstock.com

The social-networking site Jerk.com secretly took information from Facebook to label millions "a jerk" and "not a jerk," the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.

FTC is seeking an order to stop Jerk.com from using improperly obtained personal information and to require the website to delete the information. An administrative judge will hear the case next January.

In what FTC called a "brazen attempt to exploit" peoples' concerns about their online reputation, the consumer-protection agency charged Jerk.com and its operator, Napster cofounder John Fanning, with deceiving more than 73 million consumers.

Between 2009 and 2013, the FTC says, millions of Americans searched themselves on search engines to find out that they had been labeled either a "Jerk" or "not a jerk" on Jerk.com. Adding insult to injury, the website told consumers that they would have to pay a fee to revise their profile.

Visitors to the site believed that that their profiles were made by other users, but most profiles were actually created from information harvested surreptitiously from Facebook, according to the FTC.

Additionally, the agency said that the site told consumers that they could pay $30 to amend their profile or $25 to contact customer service, but those who did shell out money "received nothing" in exchange for their payment.

Profiles included photos and detailed personal information, including name, address, contact information, and even Social Security numbers in some cases.

Jerk.com also let users vote on whether or not a person was a jerk and allowed for personal comments on user profiles. Comments were generally unkind, such as, "Omg I hate this kid he's such a loser," and, "Nobody in their right mind would love you … not even your parents love [you]."

(Image via jesadaphorn/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.