A Black Market is not so much illegal as it is, extralegal. Extralegal means that a condition exists outside of a legal system. Street vendors in LA, Garage Sales across the US, some family transactions, alternate currencies, and increasingly, social media, are operating in an extralegal sector. It can be argued that most businesses probably started as an extralegal enterprise where extralegal “value” was exchanged in a simple brain-storming session.
This is only a problem depending on what side of the deal you are on. There are few liabilities, high anonymity, no lawyers, contracts, or licenses. You have a certain independence from government currencies, regulations, and oversight … and you don’t pay taxes, etc.
Tax evasion – the scourge of racketeers worldwide
However, if things go wrong, there is no legal recourse. You cannot engage the department of commerce if the garage sale item is defective. You cannot go to a bank to borrow money to finance an extralegal enterprise. You cannot sell an extralegal business in mainstream markets. If your extralegal enterprise infringes on a legal enterprise, you are liable – and vice versa. You also are vulnerable to obscure tax laws that may, or may not, eventually catch up with you anyway.
The Modern Black Market
The difference with the modern black market is that social media inherently rewards high integrity and punishes low integrity. This effect makes the need for laws and law enforcement less essential in protecting business interests. If someone does dirty deals in social media, there is a form of community recourse that can take place to punish trolls and crooks. Social media does not always have physical, visible, or involuntary infrastructure to impose on the legal rights of others.
The “Little House on The Prairie” effect
The Last Mile of Social Media is an emerging condition where social media applications act in a community much as they did before all mass media. One example is Craigslist – if you sell me a dodgy lawn mower, well, I know where you live. I can “ask a neighbor” and conduct a social media search on anyone that I encounter. As communities form in close proximity, anonymity goes away and people work with people they know and trust.
As governments and industries increase their usage of social media applications – this black Market becomes a gray market. Employers check backgrounds. Courts hold employers to public information usage laws in discrimination suits. Anyone can be financially impacted by TMI on social media networks.
However, as long as it stays in the extra-legal sector Social Media will remain intangible in the eyes of the current financial system. This gives rise to two options: Government should regulate social media OR social media will operate in an alternate financial system.
My bet – and indeed the objective of the Ingenesist Project – is that an alternate financial system will emerge which will fully capitalize and securitize a social currency. Then, and only then, it will become a relatively simple task to convert social currency to any financial currency much like currency exchanges legally operate around the world.