Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Rage Against the (blogging) Machine

I follow a lot of blogs across social media - I often follow links posted to blog posts especially from twitter - I may not read them everyday but every so often a post catches my eye and I trot off to read it.

I think in general most bloggers write some amazing posts - they spend a lot of time and energy on them particularly the 'professional' bloggers who have turned their blog into a (usually) 1 person home business.

The influence of bloggers has never been higher and shouldn't be underestimated - they can and do influence people - whether it be to try a new product, or to get involved in a campaign. Bloggers work hard and those with a massive following and who put out continuosly high quality content should be paid for their work and their collaborative posts.

But as Uncle Ben says With great power comes great responsibility (sorry couldn't resist a Spidey quote there). Which is why I really think that there is certain paid for content on blogs which really shouldn't be there - specifically posts promoting PayDay Loan companies (and other financial low lives!) and gambling.

Advertising agencies have super strict guidelines around both these products for a very good reason!

PayDay loan companies are notoriously bad for people who already have money problems or are in any kind of financial difficulty. They are an extremely expensive form of finance and can lead into a spiral of debt if they are given to someone who is unable to afford to pay the loan off in full and not be short the next month.

An example

Anne earns £1000 a month

Her disposable income after all essential bills are paid is £200 a month

Her car needs repairs which will cost £150 so she takes out a short term / payday loan because she has that as disposable income and she read on a blog that all the negative hype about these companies is just hype and that actually they aren't that bad.

The total cost of the loan to be repaid is £200 with charges.

If she pays the loan she now has NO income for the month.

The likelihood is that she will either

A. Pay off the loan in full and then borrow again in order to have money for the month
B. Partially pay off the debt and roll it over to the following month: so Pay £100 which takes the debt down to £100 plus the rolling £50 charge so she still owes £150 and the following month will be in a similar  situation.

Either way the loan isnt going to just cost her the initial £50 in fees it's going to cost more and if she becomes reliant on these loans she is basically spiraling!

As for gambling? I have seen a certain well known blogger lets call her Bloggie promoting a variety of gambling sites. Her blog contains affiliate links to the sites so everyone who signs up through her she earns a bonus to play on the sites which depending on the site this could be anything from £5 up to £50 per sign up and deposit of a new player. Whilst this isn't the same as actual cash in the hand if she is still then getting to spend money on the sites for free and to possibly win which leads on to my real issue with this - Bloggie writes up a wonderful review on the gambling site - she also posts her winnings on the review making it seem like it's a sure thing to win. As well as the review she as done she also posts her winnings with screen shots all over social media - just withdrew another £500 from XYZ site if you fancy a go use my unique code for a free fiver etc etc etc

So you then have Anne again - Anne's struggling she doesn't have a huge amount of cash but she reads Bloggie - has done for a while and trusts her reviews - not only that but Bloggie is posting all these amazing things on Facebook and twitter about her wins AND she's offering a free trial on the site so hey why not give it a go? Anne creates an account and plays with the free code she is given and shock oh shock she wins only £10 but that's pretty good right? Within 2/3 games she's doubled her starting money and thinks hey this is actually easy - of course she can't withdraw that money she has won because in the small print of the sign up there is the minimum wagering clause and a bunch of other things. But she is feeling pretty confident now and has a bit of a buzz from playing. She knows it is possible to win - she's just done it - if only she had been playing with actual money like her buddy Bloggie she could be withdrawing that money right now!

So Anne fueled by her confidence that she can't fail to lose decides - I'll just deposit a tenner if I lose it's only £10. She plays ad she wins a bit but nothing massive and after a bit her £10 plus all her winnings have gone. But she is certain she is due a big win soon after all Bloggie won loads and she had won some small amounts, I mean okay she had then spent those winnings but a big  win is due right?  Fast forward a bit and Anne is now spending more than she can afford chasing her losses and spiraling!

Some people might say so what? Anne''s an adult - in both these scenarios she had a choice and she chose  to go down those paths and that is absolutely correct she did BUT her  decision - that first step in the direction of spiraling downwards was influenced by reading a post made by someone she looked up to, she thought she knew and she thought was advising her to do so.

This is why I have personally decided that any blogger who I follow on any platform who advocates or posts these type of collaborative posts I will unfollow. I am sure it wont bother them, the loss of one small follower with an even smaller blog will be like a drop in the ocean but at least I know that I am not going to be responsible for increasing their influence even a smidgen and for me that's important.

NB Yes I know that not all short term loan companies are run by Satan and not all gambling sites are the digital equivalent to crack and that not all bloggers who promote both are in it simply for the cash some of them actually believe in these companies and genuinely enjoy these sites and those who are in it for the cash have bills to pay which are more important than morals and blah blah blah

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