The opening lines of Charles Dicken’s masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities somehow also aptly sums up the experience of going online for most people today:
“It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity”
In the context of financial literacy and investment savvy, the web gives one access to an unprecendented volume of information, statistics, and is a platform to connect with a community of like-minded people for mutual learning and benefit.
However, it is also a place fraut with danger. As the wise sage Obi-Wan Kenobi put it: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Indeed, misinformation, plagiarism, and even outright scams are perpertuated for ill-gotten gains, often preying on the vulnerable.
You probably accessed a social media website in the past week. As you browsed through updates and content from people you care about, chances are, sneaky advertisments were shoved in – sometimes perhaps even without us recognising it. These sinister variant of ads are disguised as human interest stories or testimonials that aim to circumvent built-in ad-immunity that veteran internet users have.
They usually go like this: “I was born poor, and worked very hard, but that didn’t turn out too well. Then I discovered a secret method/loophole/software and made it rich! You can too!”
If you think about it, its like if you’re having a good time catching up with friends at a private party and then suddenly, Ronald McDonald shows up and says: “Hey there! Can I interest you in our new shaker fries? They’re delicious!”
These ads more dangerous than traditional ads for a few reasons:
- The lengths some advertisers go to mask their true nature, making you think you’re reading an lifestyle article or blog post
- The ability for advertisers to target their ads to reach potentially vulnerable individuals (for instance, show ads to single men, above the age of 30, with educational level less than a degree)
- The more suggestible state of people when they are perusing social media feeds
The bottom line is, we will do well to help ourselves and especially those who are not as internet savvy, such as seniors, gain media literacy. We at DollarsAndSense.sg stand with you and will fight the good fight, shining a light on the worse offenders and providing you with perspectives to be more well-informed!
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