The shadow economy is perhaps best described by the activities of those operating in it: work done for cash, where taxes aren’t paid, and regulations aren’t strictly followed. Most of the businesses operating in the shadow economy aren’t what most people would think of as criminal enterprises. It used to be that the shadow economy was built on the trade of stolen goods, a warehouse worker driving an unlicensed taxi between shifts, or a simple drug deal in a shady alleyway, however, today, the shadow economy is growing due to other reasons, mainly: Social Media! It’s fairly easy to set up a Instagram or Facebook page and start selling goods without ever having to declare it to the government. Activities like these cost governments across the globe trillions of dollars every year with some observers believing that the shadow economy is now the second largest economy worldwide. Those involved aren’t paying taxes, but they are typically producing goods that formal firms would produce, such as clothes, jewelry, or cosmetics, therefore no one bats an eye! In reality, if asked, these Instagram and Facebook retail pages don't even realize their business are illegal, mainly because there isn't much awareness about the issue!
So, how does this affect Jordan’s economy? In a recent study, it was determined that over 44 % of Jordan’s workforce operated in the shadow economy. Although there have been efforts to reduce the influence of the shadow economy, such as a national framework for regulating the informal economy, not much is being done for the social media aspect of it. There are hundreds of pages, based in Jordan, that are selling goods and evading taxes. This under the table trade sector is taking a toll on retailers across Jordan. Many retail stores, including the internationally owned, once popular, Mango, are considering closing their doors due to the losses they have suffered to rising Jordanian taxes that are not being implemented on online retail accounts.. In fact, to avoid certain taxes, Instagram is becoming a platform for an underground barter economy where posts are swapped for goods and services from high-end brands hoping to attract millennials. A social media influencer with a few thousand followers needs only to post a picture of a product, and, in exchange receive off the books payments.