Documentary Shows Instagram Influencers Faking And Grifting Their Way To Internet Fame

Documentary Shows Instagram Influencers Faking And Grifting Their Way To Internet Fame

Instagram Influencers
Documentary Shows Instagram Influencers Faking And Grifting Their Way To Internet Fame. In this photo,Nick Bilton photographs Chris Bailey on a fake private plane set for the HBO documentary “Fake Famous.” Source: HBO

A new HBO documentary is exposing how Instagram Influencers can fake their entire identities and grift their way to internet fame.

Entitled “Fake Famous,” the documentary features writer and director Nick Bilton, who shares his tactics for helping three subjects go from unknown to some of the most popular influencers on the site today.

Released Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 9 p.m., the documentary covers everything from Bilton paying for his influencers to have thousands of followers to staging a luxurious lifestyle by faking photos in private jets and other exclusive locations.

“You don’t have to go to the dark web, or anything, you just go to the straight up internet and you can buy pretty much anything you want,” Bilton says in the film.“These bots are created by hackers and programmers who write code that scour the internet to steal countless random identities by pilfering peoples photos, names and bios.”

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According to CNBC, Instagram influencers can bring in paydays ranging from $250,000 to $1 million per sponsored post (the latter is for people like Kendall Jenner). The overall industry itself was valued at $1.7 billion in 2019.

With his mirages, director Bilton has helped his subjects secure real perks from companies.

“They fake all-expenses paid, free camping trips, so that later they can get a free, all-expense paid camping trip,” Bilton said in the film. “They fake hiking in the Redwoods so they can try and get free hiking gear and sponsorships. They fake free upgrades to first-class or trips on private planes.”

The results are staggering. According to the documentary, Bilton’s subjects went from having 2,500 followers on Instagram to tens of thousands – one had nearly 340,000 followers at the time of CNBC’s publication time.

It is a phenomenon that IG influencer Natalia Taylor (who has 363,000+ followers) exposed in 2020 when she posted a photo of what she initially said was her on location in Bali, but was actually an Ikea store. She said she did it to show others “life on the internet isn’t always what it seems; especially in this day and age where it’s so easy to pretend to be anyone you want to be.”