(WIAT) — An advertisement that encourages website users to sign a petition in return for cash is drawing some questions.
The site is Swagbucks, which allows people to sign up to watch videos and take surveys, information that is often passed along to market research companies. Users are compensated one cent per “SB,” which they can then trade in for gift cards or cash delivered to PayPal accounts.
Last week, users began noticing an ad labeled “House District,” which redirected them to the website for the Alabama Federation for Children. According to the Swagbucks promotion, if users signed the petition to email legislators in support of Alabama Senate Bill 123, they would receive 68 SB, or 68 cents.
SB 123 is a real piece of legislation, pending a vote by legislators. It would reinforce tax credits in accordance with the Alabama Accountability Act, which gives scholarships for students in underperforming schools to transfer to private schools.
“What happens is, we have more scholarship kids keeping their scholarship funds, we have more accountability and transparency, so we really want the legislature to vote this bill and pass this so these kids don’t lose the scholarships. this is really important,” said Chad Mathis, the Alabama Federation for Children Chairman.
However, Mathis says, they didn’t run this ad on the Swagbucks site, nor are they compensating people financially for emailing their legislators.
“We run digital ads, letting constituents know there’s a vote on this bill, and we want them to contact the legislature. somehow this got hijacked and some hacker put it on Swagbucks, and that’s how you saw it,” Mathis said.
Some long-term users of the site say this makes them a little more wary of what they see and what they sign, even if it comes with financial rewards.
“They should investigate and make sure that everything on their website is legit,” said Hussain Al Dawood, a regular Swagbucks user.
We contacted Swagbucks for comment about the ad, but have not yet heard back.