FTC goes after 'Jerk.com'

The Federal Trade Commission is going after Jerk.com, a personal reputation website that the agency says misleads consumers.

Jerk.com told users that profiles on the site — which labeled people as "Jerk" or "not a Jerk" — were based on other users' input, but the profiles were actually based on information and pictures illicitly harvested from Facebook, according to a complaint from the agency.

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Users believed that the profiles, which appeared in online search results, were created by other people due to the information and pictures within the profiles and statements from the company, according to the agency.

Additionally, the agency charged, the site falsely claimed users could pay $30 to access and revise their profile on the site. Users who did pay that fee, or the $25 to contact the site's customer service, "often got nothing in return," the FTC said.

Under the agency's foundational law, the FTC can bring charges against companies that engage in unfair and deceptive practices.

“In today’s interconnected world, people are especially concerned about their reputation online, and this deceptive scheme was a brazen attempt to exploit those concerns,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

An administrative law judge will hear the case against Jerk.com and its operator, John Fanning, in January.

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