The influencer simulation is glitching

Last night, an Instagram user was exposed for posting an image as part of her paid partnership with Veet that belonged to and had already been posted by another influencer for the same campaign. The plagiarist then DM’d the original influencer “it’s no big deal, chill” before then doubling down on Instagram Live (the place where every idea is an idea that deserves to be aired). This Instagram’s users ability to admit to stealing, then blowing it off and making everyone else seem like the problem is definitely incredible to watch. And then the implication that her larger following and “fame” (300k+ followers, I have to laugh) made it OK took it to a level of absurdity we’re all too familiar with from the spheres of celebrity and influence.

Of course, there is nothing particularly absurd about people in positions of power and privilege, people who possess wealth and status, getting to undermine, plagiarise and appropriate the efforts of the people ‘below’ them. It’s not new, it’s not shocking, it is, however, incredibly boring and exhausting.

What is absurd to me is that most of the widely accepted definitions of social media influencers basically describe a content creator who has been able to amass a following because of how valuable, unique and/or authentic their social media presence is and thus influence the thoughts and purchasing decisions of their followings. Much of influencer marketing is about capitalising on the relationships and trust influencers have, it’s about strategically partnering with people who (operative word:) create things other people like.

However, once this one Veet debacle disappears into wherever things that have happened over 10 minutes ago disappear to, the aforementioned Instagram user will be off private once again, partaking in partnerships, sponsorships and Internet fame like before.

It won’t matter that this incident was not the first time she’d passed someone else’s images as her own and, considering her attitude about the whole thing, it won’t be the last time

It won’t matter that she’s shown herself as someone who is unable to create her own work, or that she’s not someone who can be trusted – let alone as an authority or to have an influence on anything.

It won’t matter that she’s stolen an image, or if she buys followers or faked sponcon. She’s an attractive fraudster with a large audience and maybe that is what counts as influencer these days.

Featured image from here.

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