FTC says Napster co-founder John Fanning misused Facebook data
The three founders of Napster are Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker, and John Fanning. Parker was the founding president of Facebook and now runs a startup called Airtime. Shawn Fanning co-founded Path and is involved in several other projects, including Airtime. John Fanning, the uncle of Shawn, started a company called Jerk.com, which has now landed in hot water.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that Jerk.com and John Fanning improperly harvested users’ public information from Facebook to label people as a “Jerk” or “Not A Jerk.” Jerk.com created profiles for over 73 million people and told people that they could pay $30 to change around their profiles. Apparently, the website falsely led consumers into believing that Jerk.com content was created by users, even though information was collected from Facebook profiles.
The victims included children and descriptions appeared in search results. This harmed the reputation of users since people could vote and comment on how much of a jerk that person was.
Jerk.com said in a statement that the issue was caused by Facebook’s privacy policies. “We were equally horrified to discover that Facebook is placing personal information from its users including name and photographs in the public domain without requiring any agreement to its terms of service where anyone can acquire it,” said Jerk.com in a statement.
Facebook said that it applauds the FTC’s actions and will continue to work with the government to pursue Jerk.com and others that are seeking to abuse people who use the social network. An evidentiary hearing is expected to happen in front of an administrative law judge at the FTC on Jan. 27, 2015.