What is an MLM?
Multi-Level Marketing Plans, commonly known on the internet as MLM’s, are nothing new to frequent users of Instagram and Facebook. Certain savvy users with a business idea can consistently utilize their platform to influence others to buy in to a product and sell it to others. The catch is that these products cannot be bought in-store- you must purchase them from a “friend”, or someone who already works for the business. This process ultimately makes the person at the top richer by leveraging field sales and marketing to the likely naive end of the line customer.
Images of creating an empire, working from home, and “being your own boss” are built around successful clients-turned-salespeople. The technique of roping internet users in can cause tremendous financial, emotional, and social damage in the long run. Whether it is hair products, clothing, or weight loss shakes, we have all been witness or potentially fallen victim to buying into an MLM. The most obscure scheme yet has been a business that sells bags of dirt for $110 each, claiming that they “cure” cancer and autism.
Getting Their Hands Dirty
Black Oxygen Organics, otherwise known as “BOO”, encouraged its users to bathe, wear, and even drink the dirt that they were somehow successfully selling. The dirt, or “magic mud”, was sold in capsules, powder and liquid through users who claimed its magical benefits. Claims were made that the substance from a trench in Ontario could potentially cure all known ailments. Tests were run on this soil through The Ohio State University’s labs in which high levels of lead and arsenic were found, leading to FDA investigation of the product. These elements are not rare to find in soil, which is a valid reason that we should not consume such a substance.
The Downfall of BOO
Groups of anti-MLM enthusiasts banded together through the internet and conducted an insider investigation in order to shut the brand down. Some members of these internet forums attempted to join the group in efforts to gather information that would help their case in spreading awareness of the harmful product. The group gained the attention of the FDA, FTC, and Health Canada, resulting in a recall of the product.
This story proves the power of the internet for uses that are both harmful and productive. The psychologically manipulative tactics that MLMs use to prey on consumers were shut down by regular people against such organizations. Without the internet this surely would not have happened, but there would have been less of a chance of it ending as well.