Sweepstakes websites luring teenagers

Despite state sweepstakes laws, supermarkets no longer provide rules, free, mail-in entry forms, and information about the number and value of prizes in each store. Although they want promotional allowances from giant, consumer goods companies, such as Coca Cola, Colgate and Dannon, in exchange for local, point-of-sale advertising, extra shelf space and displays, now supermarkets only provide websites for sweepstakes entry, rules and prizes instead of in-store bulletin boards.

These websites lure teens and pre-teens who are the targets of the ads. These predatory companies collect personal information about the entrants, their friends, family, favorite brands and sports, and combine the data with other information from Facebook, Google, Twitter and Acxiom. Then these companies attack the youngsters with specific ads no matter where they visit on the Internet. They are the most vulnerable, innocent victims who should be protected by state enforcement authorities, but these enforcers are collecting political contributions from the same corporations and retail chains.

If a corporation asks a group of teens to upload a photo of them drinking a soda while playing a game or enjoying sports, that free photo ad may be transmitted around the world in seconds without the teen’s knowledge or permission. “It’s in the privacy policy” quotes the multi-million dollar executive. The only money-makers are the profitable corporations.

CHARLES RODA

Mount Vernon, Westchester County