It’s becoming more and more popular to see viral tweets on your Facebook timeline with ‘media companies and ‘personalities’ sharing ‘relatable tweets’ in order to get likes, comment and shares on the global networking site. But what are you actually engaging with? If you take a look back over on Twitter, many of these ‘viral tweets’ are actually part of the latest marketing scam put in place by crappy brands to sell you crappy products!
Tweets are shared by fake accounts where scammers use seemingly empowering, relatable tweets to go viral. Once the tweets have been liked and retweeted by thousands of people they will then thread them into a crafted story whose conclusion is a product of some kind, for example, a link to sign up for a three-month weight-loss teatox program.
Let’s take a look at @ashleyeats, an account that recently showed exactly how these scammy tweets work. The tweet began by discussing being in a toxic relationship and how ‘Ashley’ had previously been in one herself. The tweet managed to gain over 83,000 retweets with many people relating and responding to the statement.
It isn’t until you read the thread that you see ‘Ashley’ discuss how she was dating a boy who she didn’t realise was controlling and abusive at the time. She goes on to say how he ‘would force her to eat in front of him, causing her to gain weight’. As the story progresses, the main focus diverts to Ashley’s weight loss progress, including dozens of photos and videos documenting the weight fluctuations of a woman (who is presumably Ashley). So how did she shift the weight? She claimed the dramatic weight loss was down to a mysterious program she’d originally seen floating around social media and that it was the turning point she needed since escaping an abusive relationship.
It all seemed ‘pretty’ legit, just someone expressing one of their life stories like many normal everyday people do in 2018 on social media. We see many ‘insta famous/celebs’ sharing products on Instagram explaining how something has impacted their life which then influences their audience to buy it too; why wouldn’t anyone just think it was a story like that?
However, there was a lack of attention to detail in this story as users were pretty quick to realise that the women in the photos looked suspiciously different from previous photos and also the links in her final tweets redirected you to a website selling Therma Trim, a known shady diet supplement.It was all a lie, there was no Ashley, there was no abusive partner and the person behind the screen wasn’t any of the woman in the pictures that she had shared nor was she even potentially a woman at all!
Not only is it straight up false advertising as the results shared were nothing to do with the Therma Trim product, but, the people who responded to this thread were majoritively woman who were victims of domestic abuse and they were real people who had actually gone through these experiences that ‘Ashley’ was completely lying about. The readers had been lured in, they felt like they had an emotional connection with Ashley, sympathy and most importantly they probably trusted everything that she was saying. There are many cases of this with the subject focusing on a range of different matters, but they all share the same focus using emotional abuse as a way to sell a potentially dangerous product.
Going into so much depth and detail will not only have an impact on the people who read it and have similar past experiences, but who were the real woman in those photos? The women who were the faces of this huge lie…
YouTuber, Vanessa Blanco and a cam girl on a fetish site were the two woman whose videos and images were stolen and used within this ‘marketing scheme’. Neither of them had anything to do with the brand nor had they ever even used the product, but it has effected both of these woman too. The cam girl model, who specializes in feederism, a fetish involving eating and weight gain, said that not only was she outed as a sex worker to her friends and family because of this, but that her weight loss was actually a result of anorexia and cocaine abuse, something she had to mentally revisit when this post came to light.
Wow. And they just used my video to promote some random link??? I’m so confused
— VB (@iamvblanco) September 17, 2018
“The whole situation has really freaked with my sense of privacy and paranoia, because this fetish is VERY private to me and taboo to the rest of the world really. I’ve had multiple of my friends send me the thread and I had to tell them about what I’ve been doing and all in all, it’s really embarrassing,” she said.
The internet is a very powerful world and although a lot of good can come from posts going viral, such as raising awareness, a lot of bad like this can happen too. There are people in this world who have actually put together a Marketing Technique to target the emotions of their victims in an attempt to sell, and it’s disgusting. The account @ashleyeats was suspended and the thread deleted, but unfortunately numerous other accounts, such as @ashleysjourney, have sprouted up in its place tweeting the exact same thread.
With so many fake accounts around today it’s difficult to spot when you are falling victim to a scam, I know I have read a lot of fake news myself and believed it! We need to remain vigilant at all times on social media, we never know who is behind the screen no matter how innocent, kind and caring someone may seem.
In this case the Twitter threads are specifically constructed to go viral, but are done under false pretences using predatory tactics. If you read something similar from an account you don’t know personally, check… is it a thread, does this account have any followers? If so who? Do they lead you to any links? If so report the account and warn other people so that they don’t fall victim and most importantly they don’t buy a product that could really harm or even kill them!