Also, a Quick guide to teach you how to identify who is using this kind of services, trust me, you are following some people who are doing this. (100% Guaranteed) http://www.olymli.com/blog/fakeengagementnewthoughts
Although I am not a lawyer myself, I know doing such things should not be encouraged or I thought there must be legal problems with it. Therefore I made a call with my friend Joe who is a solicitor himself. After a long phone call and several emails, here is what he thinks:
The first question any lawyer will always ask themselves is do you have a legal problem? Without a legal problem, there is very little advice that a solicitor can give. This is because a legal solution becomes available to a legal problem.
There are circumstances, however, where you can avoid getting into a legal issue if you implement certain frameworks within the boundaries of the law. For example, driving with a valid licence, will not get you into trouble. However, there are some issues that are a bit more ambiguous. For example, are you misleading or deceiving a consumer with fake engagement. This is a good question, and the law is slowly catching up with the world of IT.
There are two areas of law that come to mind when dealing with fake engagement,:
The first is that of contract law.
Do you have a contract with a consumer, and what are the terms of the contract that need to be complied with? ie. what are your obligations to the person who has engaged you in work?
The second area, as highlighted above, is that of the consumer law.
Are you, or, will you mislead and deceive your consumer if you promise one thing and deliver something else. As you can see, this leads to your contractual obligations with the consumer.
In order to enforce a contract, you need to know a few things or leave it to your lawyer to figure out. But mainly, you need to have an
4) certainty to be able to enforce a contract.
Their terms alone mean nothing, however, together they are crucial. This though only forms part of the overall picture.
Consumer law is a bit more tricky because at this point you're dealing with information that is either misleading or deceptive. So this relies on information which a business provides that a consumer relies on, to their detriment. The consumer law act deals primarily with advertising and selling and makes it illegal for any business that misleads or deceives or is likely to mislead or deceive consumers or other businesses. This applies even if you had no intention of misleading or deceiving a consumer, or even if no one has suffered a loss.
There are however different things that will need to be taken into consideration when dealing with issues of misleading and deceptive conduct, such as the impression that you create.
Please feel free to leave your questions that are related to Joe's jedgment here.
As I mentioned before, I am not a lawyer, I am a marketing manager myself, here are also some of my thoughts:
This situation is just like the general problems, they are not a consequence of one single party's fault, both parties contribute to this messy situation. Of course, a lot of people want to get their internet fame and leverage their online followings. However, I would say some agencies or companies are doing a really bad job due to the isolation between marketing and sales departments. I have asked some sources, their ROI is still measured by the engagement aka. "Likes" "Views" but there isn't quite a clear measurement of the quality of the engagement. This is exactly the niche of the "fake engagement"
At the other side, social media platforms are not helping to improve the situation. The services that could monitor the engagement activities are with limited functionality and much behind in comparison with fake engagement services. Just imagine you as Instagram, would you rather witness the engagement drop daily, and companies withdraw their advertising budget or pretend to not noticing the fake bots, and the "engagement" is still "growing"? Tough decision right?
When I was doing the research about the legal problems, it was quite hard to find a proper law case to refer to, but as Joe mentioned, the law is slowly catching up with the IT development. I wish and do not wish to witness the first "Fake Influencer" get involve in a lawsuit.
Another fun thing that I have noticed, when I first started noticing this issue, those outreaches are generic and boring, but look at the emails you got now. They started using merge tags!
Obviously, the demand and supply are both growing significantly, and there are also some specific services that could focus on converting customers, I haven't tried it myself since I don't really set up any good or services to be converted from my page, but if you do use service on Instagram, I am more than happy to talk about the result that you got from it.
Also, another question from this discussion will be:" What do you think about the automated lead generation" and autopiloted social selling? Please feel free to ask any related questions here.