To my endless annoyance, on the uncommon events after I log in to my social media accounts lately, I’m deluged with focused advertisements attempting to promote me T-shirts with “witty” right-wing slogans on them. I suppose it’s pretty straightforward for the algorithms to accurately establish me as a gun-owning white man approaching 40 and to subsequently assess me as being in the appropriate demographic for that form of crap. It’s apparently harder for ad-targeting algorithms to choose up on a few of my extra nuanced traits like being an unabashedly liberal atheist.
At any fee, till there is no such thing as a demographic prepared to purchase a T-shirt from somebody who printed on that T-shirt that we must always ban idiots reasonably than weapons, I suppose we simply must stay in a world the place advertisements for ineffective rubbish are poorly focused on-line.
However, due to the U.S. authorities, we now not must stay in a world the place poorly focused T-shirts with eyeroll-inducing slogans on them may also have pretend “Made within the USA” tags stitched onto them after arriving right here from China.
Again in Might, the Bureau of Client Safety of the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint towards Utah-based attire firm Lions Not Sheep Merchandise, LLC and its proprietor Sean Whalen. In accordance with the FTC, Lions Not Sheep leaned very closely, to the purpose of dangerous style, into the supposedly American origins of its merchandise. Claims made on product labels and on-line included: “Made within the USA,” “Made in America,” “Are your merchandise USA Made?” “100% AMERICAN MADE,” and “BEST DAMN AMERICAN MADE GEAR ON THE PLANET.”
Such claims in all probability appealed to the kind of pretend patriots who’re into T-shirts and jackets that feature phrases like “Let’s Go Brandon” and “Give Violence a Likelihood.” America first and all, proper?
Nevertheless, the large drawback was that Lions Not Sheep attire was, very a lot, not made in America. Not solely had been wholly imported shirts, hats, and different attire being marketed as having home origins, Whalen went as far as to distribute a video on his social media accounts displaying him concealing the very fact this his firm’s shirts are made in China by tearing out the origin tags and changing them with new labels falsely stating that the merchandise had been made in america. Whoops!
I suppose Whalen did stay as much as his firm’s ungrammatical motto to “present individuals it’s doable to stay your life as a LION, Not a sheep,” as a result of that’s completely a lion transfer. Would a sheep fake to be a gun-loving America-first patriot after which put up a video displaying precisely the way it was duping its personal clients by ripping out these “Made in China” tags and placing in pretend “Made within the USA” labels as a substitute?
To nobody’s nice shock, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep had been discovered to be making prohibited misrepresentations concerning the U.S. origins of their merchandise. A recently unveiled FTC order requires them to, you already know, cease doing that. Sooner or later, Lions Not Sheep have to be clear in regards to the origins of its merchandise, and even the place some restricted work on merchandise has been achieved domestically, the corporate can be pressured to qualify its claims accordingly. One thing tells me the FTC goes to be paying fairly shut consideration to the follow-through on this one too.
On this case, the FTC isn’t solely aiming to curb future dangerous habits. There’s some retribution for previous wrongs too in that Whalen and his firm must pay a civil penalty of $211,335. You need to promote quite a lot of T-shirts to make up for a $211,335 loss. Though that’s solely about a day-and-a-half of MAGA hat sales, when you can consider Jared Kushner (which you completely can’t and shouldn’t).
So, a spherical of applause for our diligent FTC for, this time, ensuring that MAGA acolytes shopping for overpriced crap on the web don’t additionally get to be ok with it by pretending they’re supporting American jobs. I suppose we will rely that as a win. The FTC actually does deserve extra credit score for doing quite a lot of good work that’s far too straightforward to miss.
Jonathan Wolf is a civil litigator and creator of Your Debt-Free JD (affiliate hyperlink). He has taught authorized writing, written for all kinds of publications, and made it each his enterprise and his pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. Any views he expresses are in all probability pure gold, however are nonetheless solely his personal and shouldn’t be attributed to any group with which he’s affiliated. He wouldn’t wish to share the credit score anyway. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.