Getting jerked around
Do people think you’re a jerk? What if a search of your name turned up a site that seemingly answered that question for anyone to see? Meet Jerk.com.
Today the FTC charged Jerk — a supposed social networking site and reputation service — with allegedly tricking people into paying for site memberships to dispute profiles.
According to the FTC, Jerk.com and Jerk.org encouraged users to label people — including teens and kids — a “jerk” or “not a jerk.” The more than 70 million profiles also had space for users to add information like someone’s age, address, phone numbers, school, employer, and more. Some teens’ profiles included insults about their physique or sexual orientation. Many people found out about the profiles when they searched for their name online and saw a profile pop up as a top result.
What’s worse, most profiles weren’t created by real users, the FTC says, but by the company, which used people’s Facebook photos. When people paid $30 for memberships in the hope of disputing the profile or getting it deleted, they found their so-called memberships were worthless, and their profiles stayed put.
So, they complained to the FTC: the agency investigated and today’s announcement is the result. One important lesson: There’s value in filing a complaint when you think a company has misused your information. Another one: there are some real jerks out there looking to bully and scam people, so it’s always smart to think about how you’re protecting your personal information.