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As The Fyre Festival Fiasco Hits The Courts, What Lessons Can We Learn?

26/05/2017 07:46 BST | Updated 26/05/2017 07:46 BST
the-lightwriter via Getty Images

With the first of at least eight lawsuits against the doomed Fyre Festival set to hit the courts this week, the fall out following the failed event just won't die down and allegations continue to whirl.

The event in the Bahamas was sold to would-be revellers as a luxury Caribbean Coachella featuring acts including Blink 182 and Disclosure and was plugged relentlessly across Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter by more than 400 social media stars to their tens of millions of followers.

Festival goers were promised a weekend where they would be rubbing shoulders with the models and celebrity influencers who were promoting the event, including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski.

But rather than a five star experience, festival goers who'd paid between $1,500 and $12,000 per ticket arrived on Great Exuma to find what looked like a refugee camp with little by way of functioning amenities, food or water, let alone any live music. Some attendees say the event was "closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella".

Despite this, celebrity influencers were still uploading posts about the festival as the hundreds of people stranded on the island were sending out SOS messages. Of course, once the enormity of the fiasco became apparent, they were quick to delete everything with no apologies offered.

As Fyre Festival investors, ticket holders and employees try to get back all their owed money, it's now being alleged that organiser William "Billy" McFarland is little more than a "millennial Bernie Madoff" and that Fyre was in fact an internet age Ponzi scheme and was dogged by debt from the start.

It's led to a huge backlash against the celebrity influencers as it's since emerged that they were all posting about the festival for fees of up to $250,000, but had no idea about what they were flogging, and worse, didn't fess up that their posts were ultimately paid-for adverts plugging a fatally-flawed product.

They were all swerving the law as stated by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which says posts have to "clearly and conspicuously" reveal their relationships with brands. We have similar regulations here in the UK too - but still influencers ignore them despite the guidance.

Here, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) which is part of the Advertising Standards Authority states a paid-for post, whether that payment is in hard cash or free goods and service, must be denoted with the tag 'ad'.

It's no surprise that as a result, we are increasingly dismissive toward the Instamodels and Twitter stars for trying to sneak adverts past us.

Instead, we're seeing the rise of the micro-influencers - those with more than 3,000 followers but less than 100,000 - as influencer marketing continues to grow and everyday users and hard-working bloggers look for ways to earning a living online.

They're seen as more authentic, which we as consumers are seeking more and more online in our post-truth, fake news world. We are increasingly demanding transparency, integrity and full disclosure.

We don't want to be lied to any more so it's no surprise that we're shunning the phony, filtered posts of the celebrity influencers. We just don't believe the output of the big online stars any more.

I think we'll increasingly instead click on people who we can identify with and who genuinely love and understand what they're posting about - and are honest and upfront if they're getting anything other than a lot likes for their posts. We don't want our intelligence to be insulted.

Move over Kendall Jenner and your craven Insta clan - the age of the micro-influencer could well be upon us when the flames from Fyre finally subside...