by Sarah Nove ‘20
Jake Paul, youngest of the famous–or infamous–Paul brothers, and CEO of the social media company Team 10, recently launched a program called “Edfluence.” Edfluence claims to be a service that teaches users “how to do social media,” as Jake Paul states in his video entitled “HERE’S WHY 2017 WAS THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE.”
Jake and Logan Paul have built their careers on successfully manipulating their young audiences. Edfluence is no exception. Jake’s program promises social media success if you follow his course, as well as a potential membership in his new program called Team 1000, which is a vaguely described extension of Team 10. This promise of community and the instant gratification of social media stardom exploits the loneliness and low self-esteem that has become increasingly common in kids in his demographic.
The Edfluence program starts out with a base course, called “Roadmap to 1000,” which is priced at $7. This course is limited compared to the other course, though it is marketed as the “foundation you need to become an influencer.” Supposedly, the Roadmap course includes “details of EVERY step you need to take now” to be a successful influencer and “over five years worth of [Jake’s] and [his] team’s experience condensed into a couple of hours of video.” In reality, the Roadmap program is the paltry prerequisite to the real money-maker, the “Inner Circle” program, which costs an additional $57.
The scheme basically goes like this: consumers pay $7 thinking that they are purchasing the Inner Circle program, not knowing that they will later have to pay an additional $57 for access to the actual program. The website does not make it clear what is being purchased, and, since many of its users are children, they may purchase the Inner Circle program with the credit card already on file, without notifying their parents. Once purchased, users have only three business days to request a refund.
Another sketchy bit of information hidden within Edfluence’s Terms of Service is their claim to the rights to any “User Content” posted on the site. Currently, there is no way for users to post any content on the site, so the clause doesn’t do anything. However, according to BuzzFeed writer Katie Notopoulos, a forum may still be in the works. Users would be able to post content for others and Jake himself to see. If the forum does eventually become a reality, it would be a huge incentive to purchase the program, but it also would be an underhanded move on Edfluence’s part to gain content. According to Edfluence’s terms of service, “by submitting or posting any User Content on the Site, you grant Edfluence a non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use your User Content, including the likeness of any person that appears in the User Content, or any of the concepts or ideas contained in the User Content, for any purpose.” This means that once posted on the site, the Edfluence team has the full right to use the posted ideas and content for any purpose.
Jake and the Edfluence team created Edfluence with the knowledge that his fans trust him to be honest, yet they created a confusing and deceptive program nonetheless. Though Jake’s intentions may have been harmless, the tactics used to sell Edfluence undoubtedly abused that trust.