Nick Bilton, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, recently came out with an original documentary “Fake Famous” on HBO which aims to expose social media as a world of fake personalities.
Bilton saw a survey that found “Kids in America want to be influencers more than any other career,” he told New York Post. This sparked Bilton’s interest in exposing the art of faking lives on Instagram, and showing that what people post on social media is often not the reality.
Bilton originally put out a casting call in late 2019 asking the question, “Do you want to be famous?”
“We immediately got around 5,000 responses,” he told USA Today. Bilton’s preferred candidates for the documentary were required to meet certain requirements including having fewer than 1,000 Instagram followers and being unknown by Instagram standards, according to USA Today.
“It was really shocking to see how pervasive it was, how much money goes into it, and how the tech companies really don’t have a desire to do anything about it, because it inflates their numbers,” Bilton told the New York Post. He went on to say he had spent over $14,000 on more than 300 Instagram bot services, concluding his investigation with saying “I think you could pull it off for $2,000 a person … and you can be perceived as famous.” Bilton said, New York Post reported. (RELATED: Instagram Influencer Freddie Bentley Wants Less World War II Education)
The main tactic used in the documentary to gain followers was faking photoshoots to make their lives seem different than they actually are. Bilton reportedly spent over $650 on Druckman alone just for staging Instagram worthy photos. In addition to the $650 Bilton dropped on Druckman, it cost Bailey $50 per hour to shoot on a private jet, the New York Post reported.
“It’s so much work, it is just insane how much work it is,” Bilton told New York Post. “We’d do a photo shoot, we’d buy all the props, we’d take all the photos and edit them, we’d post them, and four, five days later, you’re out of photos, so you have to do it again and again.”
Druckman, 26, was the first to benefit off of the project by gaining over 340,000, mostly original, followers on Instagram. She was contacted by huge cooperate companies for collabs and invited on all-expense-paid vacations to do photoshoots.
“That was a hard truth that I don’t think I ever wanted to accept,” she told New York Post.
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Wylie Heiner, another participant in the documentary, told the New York Post “I was just embarrassed. I look like a fool.”
Heiner is applying to college to become a licensed therapist.“There could be a good relationship between therapy and social media,” he said, according to the New York Post.