Did an Instagram Influencer Stage a Motorcycle Accident for Likes?
Anything for the gram?
Ever since an Instagram influencer revealed she successfully faked a trip to Coachella earlier this year, followers fearful of having the wool pulled over their eyes again have taken a more skeptical approach to influencer culture. The latest influencer to get tossed under the microscope is Nashville-based lifestyle blogger Tiffany Mitchell, who critics have accused of staging the motorcycle accident she recently chronicled on Instagram for her 212 thousand followers.
Mitchell has denied the allegations, telling BuzzFeed News she “would never turn a very important personal story like this into a brand campaign.”
In the since-archived post Mitchell originally shared late last month, the influencer posted a series of photos capturing her motorcycle crash along with a lengthy caption in which she explained that a friend had been driving alongside taking photos when the crash took place. The friend continued to capture photos of the aftermath of the crash, including one showing the injured Mitchell laying on the ground being tended to by first responders.
While some followers questioned the appropriateness of snapping photos of such a traumatic event, Mitchell maintains she was grateful her friend captured the crash and its aftermath. “I didn’t know she was taking them, but later on when she showed them to me I was so grateful that she captured such an intense moment for me.”
Even more skeptical critics, however, accused Mitchell of staging the accident entirely, with some also pointing to a seemingly too fortuitously placed bottled of Smartwater in one of the shots as evidence that the post was sponsored. Mitchell has denied any branded deal with the water company, and Smartwater also confirmed to Buzzfeed News that no such partnership exists.
The influencer removed the posts following the backlash, but BuzzFeed News — who Mitchell reportedly asked not to proceed with the story — has the screenshots.
Mitchell isn’t the first influencer to be put under a microscope in recent months. Back in May, some questioned whether the influencer boom had come to an end after a teen influencer shared that she had failed to sell enough shirts to seal a pending brand partnership, only for some influencer conspiracy theorists to posit that her proclaimed failure was actually all part of an elaborate stunt to attract more media coverage. (If it was, it worked.)
Earlier this month, a woman exposed her influencer sister’s fake “hike,” posting pics she secretly snapped of her sister posing in hiking gear against the wooded backdrop of what turned out to be their suburban backyard.
My sister said she was going hiking…..this is our backyard. pic.twitter.com/LDGhAHNSSp
— ℂ𝕒𝕣𝕝𝕪 𝕊𝕠𝕤𝕟𝕠𝕨𝕤𝕜𝕚 (@carlysos3) August 4, 2019
Of course, a fake hike or music festival is a little different than faking a traumatic and potentially life-threatening accident, and even some who didn’t accuse Mitchell of faking the experience have questioned whether the influencer should have shared such an intense moment on social media at all.
“How are people commenting on this like it’s normal?” commented one follower. “I feel like Elaine Benes screaming at everyone for eating Snickers with forks. ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL YOU PEOPLE? HAVE YOU ALL GONE MAD?'”
Despite removing the post, however, Mitchell has defended her decision to share the photos on her platform. “All motives for taking the photos and sharing them along with the details of the experience were good,” she said. “I’m really sad that raising this topic without all the context may inspire negativity and hatred, but I did my best and hope whatever happens can add to people’s lives in some way.”
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