WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission says the operators of a website called Jerk.com are the ones behaving badly.
The commission said Monday the website harvested personal information from Facebook to create profiles labeling people a “Jerk” or “not a Jerk”.
Jerk allegedly charged consumers $25 to email the company’s customer service department. Consumers were then told they could pay $30 to revise the online profile but got nothing in return. The site also made consumers believe the content had been created by other users, not the company.
The FTC estimates that Jerk LLC, the Boston-area based parent company behind the site, and John Fanning, its operator, created profiles for more than 73 million people — including children — between 2009 and 2013.
Attempts to contact Fanning were unsuccessful, and his attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.
The FTC is seeking an order that would bar the company from such deceptive practices, prohibit them from using improperly obtained personal information and require them to delete the information. A hearing is scheduled to begin before an administrative law judge in January of 2015.
Facebook said in a statement that it applauds the FTC’s work and will continue to work with the commission as it pursues Jerk.com and others that abuse its service. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media company sent a cease and desist letter to the site in 2012 and disabled some of its applications that violate its terms.