The Law and Business of Social Media
November 26, 2019 - Influencer Marketing, Cyberbullying, Online Reviews, Cybersecurity

Social Links: FTC fights fraudulent online product reviews; Twitter takes another swipe at trolls; Influencers affect everything from cybersecurity to career choices

The high-end skincare brand Sunday Riley has settled lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission claiming that the brand’s founder encouraged employees of her eponymous company to set up accounts “under different identities” on the cosmetics retail site and leave positive reviews for Sunday Riley’s products. The FTC filed the complaints after the agency conducted an investigation that was prompted by a whistle blower’s post on REDDIT last year. Read about the settlement’s lenient terms, which two of the FTC’s five commissioners don’t believe are severe enough to deter other companies from attempting to post fraudulent reviews online.

Last month four senators—three Democrats and one Republican—introduced a bipartisan bill to require communications platforms to provide their users with a means of exporting the data that their users have accumulated on the platforms, such as friends lists. The rationale behind the legislation: making it easier for smaller platforms to compete with the likes of social media giants like Facebook and YouTube. Legislation like this is intended to benefit consumers and would require “operability standards to be revised” as interfaces evolve, writes Forbes columnist Robert Seamans. The real challenge, he argues, would be determining the types of data covered by the legislation.

Twitter announced it will extend to all of its users around the world the “Hide Replies” feature that it first tested in Canada in July and then rolled out in the United States and Japan in September. The feature allows users to “hide” any replies to their tweets. However, other Twitter users may view and respond to hidden replies by clicking a grey icon that appears on the tweets. Twitter’s blog reports that the platform’s test runs of the Hide Replies feature revealed that “27% of people who had their Tweets hidden said they would reconsider how they interact with others in the future,” and Twitter posters who hid replies “may want to take further action after [they] hide a reply, so now [Twitter will] check to see if you want to also block the replier.” This isn’t the first action that Twitter has taken to control trolls, and the platform’s blog promises that it won’t be the last.

Influencer culture has infiltrated the world of cybersecurity, with the Twitter accounts of several popular experts in that increasingly prominent field running ads for Lenovo’s “ThinkShield” line of products and services. VizSense, an influencer marker, reached out to the influencers, who included journalists, a former intelligence operative, and experts in areas like artificial intelligence, each with more than 10,000 Twitter followers apiece. Find out why the campaign sparked controversy in the cybersecurity community.

Speaking of influencers, guess what Bloomberg reports is now the number one career aspiration of the “overwhelming majority” of young Americans? Sigh.