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November 5, 2015

 

RACHEL MAXWELL 

MAXWELL

MAXWELL

Managing Editor | ram049@latech.edu

 

It seems like every time I log into Facebook I find a friend request from a random girl I don’t know. At first I thought it was a little unusual, until I noticed a pattern.

 

When I clicked on all of these girls’ profiles, their statuses were filled with “offers of a lifetime” aimed at selling their Facebook friends body wraps, makeup, or whatever their multi-level marketing scheme has convinced them to tout online.

 

These schemes are not new; Younique and It Works! are just today’s answer to Melaluca and Pampered Chef. In the social media generation, there are even more avenues through which to get suckered into such schemes, but with this increase in “business opportunity” also comes quicker and easier ways to debunk the scams.

 

A quick google of the any of the companies in question would give hints to their illegitimacy.

 

Even if none of the first page links have headlines identifying them as scams, in every single search I did, “pyramid scheme” was in the related searches bar.

 

The fact that so many people have fallen into the trap and are now actively trying to recruit “distributors” under them is one of the more harmful example of a problem that has become increasingly prevalent in this day and age: media illiteracy on the Internet.

 

People are willing to invest money into a company without doing any research is evidence of people’s willingness to take things they read or see online at face value.

 

This is seen daily in other situations, such as news sharing.

 

As journalism students, we are taught to check the source, check it again, and then check it a third time.

 

In an era in which a majority of people’s news comes from Facebook or Twitter, it is even more important that the regular media consumer does this for themselves.

 

We have all seen friends share far-fetched headlines we know can’t be true, but sometimes the lies and clickbait are not easy to identify.

 

Sometimes, it takes a quick cross-referencing before you hit the share button.

 

In the age of information, one common slogan of MLM schemes does ring true. We do have “unlimited opportunities.”

 

But with this wealth of information also comes increased opportunities for manipulation and deception, so before you sign up to sell mascara or share that crazy article, do yourself a favor and use the resources you have at your fingertips to check it out.

 

Rachel Maxwell is a sophomore journalism major from Benton who serves as managing editor for the Tech Talk.

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