Can You Buy Fame?

Jennifer Scott │ February 4, 2021

The new HBO documentary, Fake Famous, which appeared for the first time on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, raises a lot of concern as to the legitimacy of today’s social media influencers. According to writer/director, Nick Bilton, many influencers have been able to fake fame by buying fake followers and likes through websites such as Famoid. If you do not know what Famoid is, it is “an algorithm that pretends to be a real person on the internet” (Bilton, 2021.) Those algorithms have created an estimated “hundreds of millions” bots that were created by “hackers and programmers who write code that scour the internet to steal countless random identities by pilfering people’s photos, names and bios” (Bilton, 2021.)

On this premise, Bilton conducted an experiment to see if he could use Famoid to take three “random people with a tiny following online and turn them into famous influencers” (Bilton, 2021.) For example, he purchased 7,500 followers and 2,500 likes for one of the subjects at a cost of $119.60. Over the next few days, the bots went to work slowly to avoid tipping off any social media platforms of the deceit. He, then, went on to use the formula for the other participants. To further develop the hoax, Bilton took photos of the subjects in seemingly exotic locations and even went so far as to take a picture of a participant on the set of a fake plane.

Presumably, there will be a lot of backlash surrounding this documentary, from disgruntled fans to angry social media influencers, along with the real celebrities he outed for trying to “appear more popular than they really are” (Bilton, 2021.) In order not to spoil the outcome, I recommend watching Fake Famous. It is certainly an eye opener! Any thoughts?


Bilton, N. (Director). (2021). Fake Famous [Film]. HBO.


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