“Click here for a life-changing opportunity”
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If you’re a woman on social media, or if you know more than a few, you’ve probably seen the MLM messages.
“Heyyyyyy hun!” it might start. “I know this is random, but I swear to god this skincare routine totally changed my life.” The product could be any number of wellness-y things: supplements, essential oils, vitamins. The level of familiarity — “How are you girly?” — doesn’t really reflect how close you were with this person.
At some point, the message takes a turn. This person who slid into your direct messages isn’t just selling a product, they’re usually selling the “life-changing opportunity” for you to sell that product too. What you’ve got there is a “hunbot,” and they’re involved in multilevel marketing, or MLM. The U.S. had more than 16 million MLM sellers in 2019, and most of them will likely end up breaking even or losing money.
MLMs often target women, and many thrive on probing vulnerabilities: aging skin, weight gain, money worries. And at the height of the world’s vulnerability last year, some MLMs starting making wild claims about products to treat or prevent COVID-19 or how people who’d suddenly lost their income could earn it all back and more. It got so bad, the Federal Trade Commission stepped in.
When Kiara Aceves took the “life-changing opportunity” to sell weight-loss and lifestyle products, she quickly became the exception to the MLM rule — or at least that’s what she thought at first. On this week’s show, Aceves tells us about the view from the top of the MLM world and how her life actually did change.
If you liked this episode, send it to the “hunbot” in your DMs and tell us what happens.
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“This Is Uncomfortable” is Reema Khrais, Megan Detrie, Hayley Hershman, Peter Balonon-Rosen, Camila Kerwin and Marque Greene.
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