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Fake Famous, HBO
via YouTube/HBO

Watch people fake their way to influencerdom in the trailer for Fake Famous

The HBO documentary will chart three people’s path to social media stardom, with the help of bots and fake followers

A new HBO documentary, Fake Famous, will take three aspiring influencers and record the highs and lows of their journey to social media fame. As suggested by the title, it will also explore the dubious means – from misleading photoshoots to straight up buying fake followers – they can use to help them get there.

Created by tech journalist and first-time director Nick Bilton, the film “explores the industry of social media influencers through an innovative social experiment,” says HBO. “The film’s journey into this world is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers.” 

In a recently-released trailer for Fake Famous, they’re seen contriving scenes for their Insta feed, and posing in what looks suspiciously like that fake private jet in Los Angeles. When that’s not enough, they’re also shown purchasing “fake friends” to inflate their following. “By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to ‘engage’ with their social media, the newly made ‘influencers’ discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle.”

Because we’re living in a capitalist hellscape, these fake lives lead to some pretty lucrative brand deals, too. As they build their respective followings, the influencers are seen raking in free stuff. “The most successful of them are paid fortunes to advertise on their platform,” HBO adds. “Even if the entire premise is tenuously based on fake scenarios and fake lives, the financial incentives for every piece of the puzzle are real.”

“Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous illuminates our obsession with the numbers of likes, followers, and favourites we get, and how most of our online world is much more fabricated than we realize.” The film will also include commentary and interviews with experts on the topic, such as New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz.

Fake Famous will air on HBO, and stream on HBO Max, February 2. Watch the trailer below.