|The legit The Grey Layers|
Whatever you may think of it (I have my opinions) Instagram is facing a new scam that is a serious reflection of who and where we are now.
Instagram Influencers are finding their identities stolen and others are receiving the free merchandise promoters generously give in hopes of receiving a boost.
|The suspicious The Spicy Cocktail|
A bit of history:
The popular subjects on Instagram are food ("what I ate" and "what I cooked"), travel ("where I went"), decorating ("what I did" and "what I wish I could do") and celebrities. There are cuddly pets and adorable children, of course, and—now—way too many ads. There is also fashion, which fills a huge amount of Instagram's endless space. And there are Influencers.
Someone during Instagram's infancy decided to show the world what she was wearing. Many, many did the same. A term was coined, OOTD (Outfit of the Day). Even more began to "follow" them, perhaps asking, "Where did you get those cute shoes?" The Cute Shoe Company suddenly got a lot of requests. Instagrammers realized they had influence. Promoters discovered another outlet. A match was made, an idea hatched, and Influencers were born.
I would like to say I can smell a rat, but at first I was taken in. I was impressed some women were recognized for their style. I just assumed the coat one wore or the lipstick another liked were their own discoveries. Slowly I realized this could be their jobs.
Now, not every fashion-loving woman on Instagram is an Influencer. There are professionals I follow who have legitimate businesses as reporters or stylists, whose work and point of view I enjoy seeing. There are stylish women who aren't promoting anything, of course.
But Influencers, posters on Facebook with followings of 50,000 to 500,000, are big business. Millions of dollars in merchandise are allotted to wooing them in exchange for a photo and a mention.
The New York Times reported on the Instagram scam with this eye-opening example. Jeane Grey has posted as @TheGreyLayers since 2009. She's one of those Instagram professionals, an Influencer, with 460,000 followers. She must be catnip to a product hoping for exposure on her feed. She discovered that her identity had been stolen by a young woman (a minor) living in Spain. I'm not sure how it worked, but @TheSpicyCocktail started receiving gifts meant for @TheGreyLayers and posting them on her site.
|The scurrilous Spicy Cocktail|
I don't want to give her much exposure because what she's doing is wrong and stupid and sad. Jeanne Grey has alerted the Instagram community. @TheSpicyCocktail has victimized others as well. She denies it was anything but a simple mistake (highly doubtful).
The Times quoted a publicist who works with Influencers, saying that most people impersonating her clients were 9 to 15 years old. This fills me with alarm. What kind of message are we sending to girls growing up? What kind of pursuit is this? Why the interest in promoting oneself? What a horrible way to gather that approval we all wanted as teenagers. What values do these girls have? And who has taught them? Is it us as a society? Can we blame the girls' mothers for encouraging this? Do they even know? The horrid Spicy Cocktail has been on Instagram for a very long time. I found older pictures of her where she looks about 10.
|Too too too young...|
I'm left with a feeling of dread. What may have started as fun has become a terrifying endeavor that can not end well. For anyone.