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Litigation is Fragmenting the Internet

May 19, 2023

Never become the “main character” on the internet for the day.

Our latest podcast guest got a taste of that firsthand recently, when he took aim at MrBeast, whose recent giveaway appears to have come close to violating Instagram terms of service, and potentially even state laws.

This week on the podcast we sat down with consumer brand and creator attorney, Robert Freund, who has been using his Twitter account to highlight areas of risk for online brands.

It’s harder and harder to keep up with laws and rules, especially those set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is especially true as these rules are changing quickly, leaving many businesses confused. Freund highlights the seriousness of these challenges, explaining the possible legal issues that could happen in this growing online market.

For seven years, class action lawsuits have provided precedent for attorneys to seek out non-compliant brands. ADA compliance is but one of the types of areas of compliance that Freund covers on his popular Twitter account, but there are others, too.

Lotteries, giveaways, sweepstakes, price fixing, discounting, creator UGC; these are all areas of risk for brands that don’t understand state laws and FTC guidelines. As if it wasn’t enough, you’re going to need to abide by social media and eCommerce platform terms of service, too. 

Emerging legislation may even be fragmenting the internet. Pornhub ceased operations in Utah due to a new age restriction law. Prop 65 and CCPA made it difficult for many businesses to operate online in California. And now the new Illinois biometric data laws may cause some to shutter their online operations in that state.

It’s never been easier to start selling online.

But it’s also never been more perilous to operate an online business.

— Phillip

P.S. Watch to our interview with Robert Freund on Youtube, or listen wherever podcasts are found. Or on Apple or Spotify.

Opportunity Knocks. With Bed Bath & Beyond closing, billions in sales are available to other retailers who fill in the space. Target, Amazon, Walmart, and Home Goods are hoping for a big boost following the wind-down. When one door closes, another one hopes we notice they are open.

Bird Lovers, Rejoice. In rather unsurprising news, the sounds and even sightings of songbirds are good for our mental health. They connect us to nature and this is good for our bodies, our brains, and our souls. Recent studies have shown that even recorded bird sounds can help offset negative emotions and reduce stress, up to hours after listening.

More Sights & Sounds. Montana has officially become the first state to ban TikTok. New York’s Mayor has come up with a plan to tackle the retail theft that is running rampant in the city.

Toxic Bras. As if having to wear a bra every day doesn’t seem toxic enough in and of itself, recent tests by the Center for Environmental Health have revealed that several sports bra and athletic clothing brands contain high levels of BPA in them. The chemical compound is linked to harmful health issues.

Our Take: Modern sportswear relies heavily on technical fabrics, and the normalization of sportswear as leisurewear has only deepened this trend. It’s not uncommon to see technical fabrics at every price-point: from the Shein haul to the $200 yoga pant. 

But the dirty truth is that technical fabrics are a petroleum product. Plastics are a necessity for production, and as demand ramps up we begin to see more plastic in more items. This has unknown impacts to health effects, even beyond the new CEH findings of BPA levels, given that UTIs and other vaginal health issues can be linked to the types of materials used in undergarments. 

Whether we like it or not, we have an uncomfortable, and irreplaceable, dependency on plastics in our fashion. 

Soup, Art, or Fashion? Merchants of Style, a new book by Natasha Degen dives into how fashion mimicked Warhol and what constitutes art anymore. 

The Undisruptable Sauce. Americans have settled on one nostalgic flavor by Heinz that we consider to be a canonical ketchup. Brands such as Sir Kensington’s have seen this firsthand. Unilever acquired Sir Kensington’s in 2017, and recently announced that the brand's flagship offering — its fancy British-esque tomato ketchup — would be discontinued, while the mustard and mayo lines will remain. Meanwhile, Heinz has revealed its new custom sauce dispenser, much like the Cola-Cola custom soda flavor dispensers, which can create up to 200 custom sauce options using flavor enhancers. The machine will start testing in restaurants in 2024.

End of an Era. After almost 100 years, Oscar Meyer is retiring the Weinermobile and replacing it with the Frankmobile. Anyone named Frank can get a free pack of hotdogs upon seeing the new whip. Pour a little mustard out for the old weiner.

Photo by Oberon Copeland on Unsplash

The Dating Game? In efforts to attract older users to its experiences, Roblox is thinking about adding virtual dating as an offering which could include indie movie screenings. Seems like a strange move for a game whose audience distribution is mostly children… only 17% of users are over 25.

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