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Saturday, March 28, 2015

FTC GRANTS SUMMARY DECISION AGAINST OWNER OF "THE ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK"

FROM:  U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Order Requires Deletion of All Consumer Data, Prohibits Further Deception

The Federal Trade Commission has granted summary decision against the operators of Jerk.com, a website that billed itself as “the anti-social network,” for deceiving users about the source of content on the website. The Commission found that the operators – Jerk, LLC (“Jerk”) and John Fanning – misled consumers by claiming that content on the website was posted by other users. Instead, most of the content came from Facebook profiles mined by the operators.

The Commission also found that the company and Fanning misrepresented the benefits of a paid membership which, for $30, purportedly allowed consumers to update information in their Jerk.com profiles.  In fact, consumers who paid for the membership were unable to correct information about them on the site, and did not receive anything of value for their “membership.”

The final order and an accompanying opinion resulted from an administrative complaint the FTC staff filed in 2014 against Jerk and Fanning. The summary decision was requested by FTC staff trying the case.

The order requires the company and Fanning to delete all personal and customer information collected during the operation of the now-defunct website within 30 days, and prohibits them from selling or disclosing any of that information. The order also prohibits them from misrepresenting the source of any content on a website, including personal information, and from misrepresenting the benefits of joining any service.                      

The Commission vote to issue the opinion granting summary decision and the final order was 5-0.

The company or Fanning may file a petition for review of the Commission Opinion and Final Order with a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within 60 days after service of the Final Order.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.