If you’ve been considering making money online, then you may have stumbled across a site called FanBox. The concept here is to make money via social media, which includes earning income from simply posting content, along with related activities.
FanBox was promoted both as a social experiment and a way to make money. The company behind it suggested that they want to invent a form of democracy-based social media that gives people the ability to ‘lift themselves out of poverty’. Hmmm. This sounds a lot like the spam social network TSU that shut down last year. The idea is appealing, even though it feels extremely unrealistic and probably a little naive.
Paid to post articles? That's a recipe for spamming!
But, if you’ve considered FanBox recently, you may have noticed that the site has closed its doors. According to the FanBox website, the system has transitioned to a new platform, known as Empowr. The underlying concept remains the same and people are also able to transfer their account from FanBox to Empowr.
The reason for the change is unclear. The site suggests that FanBox was only ever an experiment, while Empowr is an attempt to use those concepts effectively to create something that actually works.
Likewise, there are some indications that FanBox was designed to be a closed alpha test, while Empowr is a beta test of the same concept. Whether or not that is the case is more debatable, as there are other possible reasons for the transition.
Regardless of why the change was made, Empowr follows the same underlying approach as FanBox, with some new features and a more attractive user interface. So, both versions gave users the chance to make money by being active on social media.
How The Concept Works
The basic idea of both FanBox and Empowr is a “democratic version of social media”. That’s the term that the company uses anyway, although it’s not entirely accurate. Instead, the approach is more similar to shared wealth, where users are basically earning from one another. As far as I know, shared wealth has never worked. Just ask East Germany and the Soviet Union.
To do this, the company creates a market economy, giving people the chance (in theory) to earn by their social media habits. On FanBox, this included approaches like advertising, clicking on links and creating posts, while Empowr offers the following four areas:
In both cases, the information on specifically what you need to do is fairly vague. Users also aren’t told how much money they make from tasks, making success much harder to achieve.
If the idea were this simple, then it wouldn’t be such a bad concept. Basically, you’d be left with something like a survey site, where time is the only asset you need to be successful. But, that isn’t the issue here. Instead, the underlying system can end up costing you a significant amount of money.
A key reason is that there are various fees involved, including costs associated with making posts. So, the very behaviors that earn you money also cost a fee. There isn’t much transparency either. I couldn't even figure out how much the fees will be or even what costs a fee. As a result, many people have lost money with the company.
A related problem is the timing for fees and for payments. Basically, fees are charged against your account immediately, while it can take up to 90 days for any payments to clear.
For FanBox specifically, people would often receive emails from an Account Protection Team, which asked them to pay those fees from their credit card or PayPal, threatening a processing fee if this were not done.
This style pressures people into spending money, with the promise that they’ll be able to safely withdraw at the end of 90 days. Yet, people in that situation often found that they couldn’t actually withdraw.
With Empowr, there is also a setting that lets the company withdraw directly from your PayPal. Once again, this is phrased as being account protection. But, it really means that the company can bill you easily. This is a concerning practice, especially as it isn’t always obvious that you’re spending money.
In fact, customers of both FanBox and Empowr found that they would often end up in the negative, having spent more in credits than they actually earned. As a result, there was no income to withdraw, even if they had put money into the company at any point.
The end result is that the system makes money by charging users fees, many of which are hidden. This may mean that some users do actually manage to make money, especially if they’re active on the site. But, there is so little information about doing so, that it would be difficult to be successful. Instead, it seems like most people lose money.
Starting Again With Empowr
The decision to rebrand and relaunch FanBox as Empowr is an interesting one. The company’s statement that this is simply the next phase could be partially accurate but there are probably other forces at work as well.
In the company’s favor, changing to an entirely new service makes sense if they wanted to tweak the system or overhaul the visual appearance. It is often easier to completely start again, rather than try to dramatically change a program that’s already in place.
Doing it that way would also have let the company work on the overhaul without compromising the experience of existing users. So, making this type of change does make some sense.
There is also a second, less appealing reason – FanBox’s reputation. There are countless negative FanBox reviews out there, along with many people who have had a bad experience. The BBB rating alone is a strong indication of this, especially as the company didn’t respond to many of the complaints left by customers.
Likewise, the site Ripoff Report has multiple complaints about FanBox, with many people claiming that they have lost money. The parent company (SMS.ac) has also been fined in the past for not providing correct pricing information and for charging people unfairly.
Many of the reviews for FanBox also suggest that users have to pay a fee before they’re able to withdraw any income at all. This is always a concerning practice and is a clear sign of a scam.
Collectively, this information makes FanBox look pretty bad, which isn’t great for a company that’s trying to actively recruit. As a result, the shift from FanBox to Empowr may have been partly a way to repair their reputation.
If nothing else, there is less negative association with the name Empowr and Empowr doesn’t seem to even have a BBB rating yet. Plus, the company can always simply claim that the new system is significantly different than the old one, even though it doesn’t seem to be.
Should You Trust Empowr?
With a revamped user interface and some new features, Empowr may feel like a better version of FanBox. And, if they’re learned from Fanbox, that may even be the case. For example, Empowr seems to be more upfront about fees and gives people more information about what’s involved.
But, at the same time, Empowr also has the ability to take money from people’s accounts – and you have to give them permission before you can even withdraw income once. So, there are still some shady aspects to the company. Likewise, the underlying system is pretty suspicious and it’s unlikely to work well, especially not in the long-term.
Personally, I wouldn’t touch either FanBox or Empowr. It simply doesn’t seem like the system could ever work in the long-term and there are far too many complaints. At the same time, the risk is high, especially as you’d be giving the company the ability to bill you.
There’s also a good chance that the company will change again in the future, given that they already have once. Alternatively, they might just disappear altogether.
What's been your experience with this company? Have you made or lost money? If you haven't joined, would you trust it as a legitimate way to earn money online?