by Peter Touschner –

“Black markets” in social media votes and actions have in no way reached critical mass.  The number of sponsored “tweets,” “diggs,” and “favorites” on any given day no doubt represents a miniscule portion of the vast, burgeoning sea of authentic social media messages that traverse the globe.  Nonetheless, enterprises like Subvert and Profit should give us pause.  In this Note I argue  the FTC is uniquely positioned to combat the problem. Given the substantial public interest in user trust in the social media context as well as the growing role played by social media in shaping consumer market decisions, the FTC would do well to fulfill its broad statutory mandate to protect the public from deceptive trade practices by investigating and—if and when it is deemed necessary—regulating “black markets” in social media votes and actions.

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