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Morally Offensive Commercials

So I was watching television on my break at work the other night where I had a first: I found myself morally offended by a commercial. I’m not usually the type of person to get mad about stupid commercials or anything, but this one made me pretty disturbed for a few reasons.

The commercial was for an online service I had never heard of called BEENVERIFIED.com. The actual commercial I watched luckily happened to be on Youtube.

So yeah. Already some of you can probably see why this sort of thing is just a little disturbing.

First of all, the fact that anyone can do a background check of anyone (regardless of whether the service ends up being accurate or not, because I can’t speak to that) is rather unsettling. It seems to me like it’d be a big invasion of privacy if you just decided to run a background check on, say, your neighbor or your electrician as the commercial suggests. The fact that anyone would use the service to get indiviual background checks denotes a lack of trust or respect for the person you’re doing the background check on. Not to say that there might not be a place for that service, in theory. I can understand if someone wanted to do a background check on someone they wanted to babysit their child if they didn’t know them very well (although anyone who would leave their child with someone they don’t really know is questionable already, I would think), but aside from that, I see very little application for this service, other than to sell overly nosy people information that is probably not any of their business to begin with.

So yeah, I have problems that the fact this service exists. But that’s not really the reason why I found it morally offensive. The thing I found disturbing about the commercial was the overall tone of it. The cheery music and friendly testimonials that tried to give the impression that running background checks on everyone you know was not only normal, but is indeed optimal, that running these checks and invading your friends and acquaintances privacy was a morally correct thing to do.

Not only that, but I do resent the implication this commercial gives that anyone who would not have a criminal record means you should trust that person, which of course isn’t true in every case. There are plenty of sick people out there who have never been arrested. Also, it implies that if someone DOES have a less-than-steller record, that they aren’t someone you can trust. I’m not saying that sort of thing wouldn’t call that person’s morals into question, but there are several people I know who have encountered the law because of a misunderstanding or simply because of bad decisions they made in the past. A background check does not tell you if a person is good or bad, it just tells you if they have a police record. The commercial gives the impression that you can make a decision on a person’s character with one background check from their service, which I think is kind of hasty when you think about it.

The fact that such a service exists is already bad, but the scary part is that there are people who pay for this, who use it, and probably believe thanks to this companies marketing that there isn’t anything wrong or morally questionable about it. That is kind of a scary thought.

The only solice I have is that the commercial is pretty cheesy fare, so I doubt very many people will be taken in by it. Most of the people I’ve mentioned this commercial to agree that company is pretty messed up. I just found it odd that a commercial, designed to market their service, could have such a powerful opposite effect, to make me angry that the service exists at all. I just thought I’d share it.

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