The credibility of those who are paid and used to promote products and services to their willing followers on social media has taken a significant nosedive.
Ten of the world’s models, including the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were used along with another 400 influencers by organiser Billy McFarland, who is now in jail for fraud, to promote his Fyre Festival, puffed up as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas with five-star accommodation, private jets and limos for transport and gourmet cuisine. All this, and the paid endorsements of models that their followers trusted, persuaded 5,000 aspirants to pay up to £9,000 for a ticket to the event in 2017.
The reality, as has been revealed in two current documentaries about the disaster, was very different with the top end accommodation (“beach-side lodges”) being hurricane tents, and not enough for everyone, the “gourmet cuisine” non-existent and the private jets and limos replaced by commercial aircraft and buses.
As a result organiser Billy McFarland is serving a six year jail sentence for the fraud and has been ordered to pay back £21.1 million to more than 100 investors.
Trust endorsements on social media? Time for a re-think?