How to Succeed Through Blackmail


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Why do some people excel in public venues like school or work but sometimes fail in private ventures like losing weight or saving money?

They lack peer pressure in their private lives.

That's the theory of Aherk!, which claims that being in the public eye serves as a valuable motivator. You work harder when everyone’s watching. It’s like "The Hunger Games"…without the mass slaughter of children.

Aherk! has come up with a self-blackmailing app that puts tremendous pressure on you to succeed at personal goals.

It works like this:

1) State your goal on Facebook using Aherk’s app.

2) Upload an embarrassing picture of yourself which will be posted on Facebook if you fail to achieve your goal by a certain date.

3) Once your deadline has passed, your friends on Facebook will vote on whether or not you succeeded. If you prevail, the picture is never seen. If you fail, prepare to be teased mercilessly as the photo is posted.

Here are a couple of examples of compromising photos. Bad skin and bad hair are apparently great motivators.

A few problems with the concept.

First, you have to trust that Aherk! won't get hacked and all those embarrassing pictures are set loose in an Anthony Weiner-style avalanche of shame. The website is very new, and administrator Raphael Caldas has responded to this concern by saying, "Although I have thought of writing up a privacy policy, I never got to that given (a) the amount of programming that needed to be done & (b) the dullness of such 'bureaucratic' things…Now it’s a must, and we’ll get to that soon."

The safest policy is to post a photo that will make you feel like an idiot but won't get you in trouble.

Also, do you trust your friends? Will they be honest if you succeed at achieving your goal, or will they gleefully pile on and say you failed, JUST TO SEE THE PHOTO. If I’m your friend, DON’T TRUST ME.

Aherk! may soon provide an alternative method for being judged called "the referee system": set a goal and send a photo, and then give Aherk! an email of someone you trust. "If this person accepts the position, he’ll be asked if the user achieved the goal or not and, depending on his answer, the photo would be published."

It’s a great idea, if it really works. However, I wish we could nominate others and create their goals for them! For example, it would be great if Morgan Stanley and Nasdaq set the personal goals of properly creating a market in the future. (Editor's Note: These opinions are Jane's, not those of CNBC. Carry on.) What embarrassing photo should be posted if they fail? Maybe the champagne, caviar, and balloons they had on standby last Friday morning when Facebook went public…

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