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Netflix’s Fyre: The power of social media

How much do you use social media, for example, your Instagram? Most of us would agree that we use it quite a lot, perhaps a bit too much. By the way, this isn’t a lecture about the dangers of social media overuse, but rather about the dangers of believing everything you see.

Netflix recently released Fyre, a 90 minute documentary based on the 2017 Fyre Festival disaster. It follows the intense and frankly shocking accounts of the members working under infamous ‘entrepreneur’ Billy McFarlan, as well as the unfortunate festival attendees and island locals.

The documentary as a whole is fantastically edited with a well-rounded collection of interviews recounts the events before, during, and after the disaster that was Fyre Festival.

What began as a promotion for a celebrity booking app soon grew into an incredibly dangerous and traumatic experience for both staff and visitors alike. But how did it all take off? Well, a selection of popular, influential people on Instagram posted a single, ambiguous, orange tile.

Advertisements are integrated into everything we see nowadays. Detox teas, gym products, hair gummies – you name it and you will most likely have seen it if you subscribe or follow certain social media influencers.  The orange tiles posted by the Fyre Festival influencers were no different.

We have been perpetually told not to believe everything we read in newspapers. Unfortunately, the fast rise in influencers and companies targeting the digitally savvy means that it is certainly time to begin spreading the same message about the world of social media.

Viewers can be easily pulled into a false sense of trust, resulting in being presented with questionable, unspecified adverts. In reality, influencers might not have even tested these products themselves, so how are consumers to know what they are letting themselves in for?

Previously, it has been acceptable to promote products or sponsorships without letting the viewer know outright, but recent regulations say that it is prohibited to promote products if it’s not obviously labelled as a promotion. So, from now on, you may be seeing a lot more #ad or #sponsor tags alongside your favourite Instagram posts.

It will be a slow process for everyone to get used to this both the legal and influencer side, but it is certainly a step in the right direction to prevent something as huge as Fyre Festival ever happening again.

It may be too little too late for many influencer followers though, especially for those who did attend the supposed luxury music festival, but it now stands as a valuable cautionary message about the sheer power of social media.

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Meet the author

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Shannon Butcher

I'm Shannon Butcher, a third-year student at the University of Lincoln. I study journalism and have pursued this field because I enjoy writing, informing or educating others and having the ability to discover interesting stories. Outside of university, I live near Sheffield where I spend a lot of my time off. From my time at university, I have been exposed to a wider range of journalism, pushing me into photography, features and magazine.

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