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New Arizona law cracks down on influencers who blackmail businesses looking for free stuff

A recently-passed law bans bloggers and influencers from blackmailing Arizona businesses with negative reviews unless they get free stuff.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:43 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A bad review online can cripple a small business, even if it’s not legitimate. The impact of those bad reviews has sparked a wave of “mob-like” behavior. Businesses across the state have complained recently that they’re being bullied by social media bloggers and influencers, who are demanding goods and services, and if they don’t get them, they’re threatening to post a negative review. Content creator Andrea Blake of Scottsdale said this kind of behavior is unacceptable. “That puts us content creators and influencers in a terrible light,” said Blake. “That’s not traditionally how we are, and it’s also terrible for businesses because they are people trying to make an income and pay the bills.”

Colin Diaz is president of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, which teamed up with other business groups this year, demanding action from state lawmakers. Their efforts appear to have paid off. Gov. Doug Ducey just signed SB 1001 into law. It protects businesses from being blackmailed and threatened with negative reviews online.

The new law does not restrict customers from posting their opinions but holds noncustomers accountable for questionable posts. “There was no course of action a business could take to protect their reputation, protect their name, protect their livelihood until the bill came out,” said Diaz. “For businesses doing what they should be doing, this will give another layer of protection.”

Arizona’s new law makes extortion of a business a class 4 felony that can send an offender to prison for up to three years. The new law will take effect later this year.