We’ve talked about Social Media before and the importance of keeping your head screwed on when it comes to the things that you see on Instagram (spoiler: it’s not all true life!) But things have gotten wild over the past few weeks when it comes to bloggers and influencers in Ireland. And we need to talk about it.
So, just what is the Irish Influencer Scandal about? Here’s a recap on the whole saga…
There has been a lot of talk about the issues with the Influencer world for years, but it’s only now that it has suddenly gained a lot of attention. Back in October an Instagram page called irishbloggescammer was set up in an attempt to highlight some of the issues that were annoying people. The owners of this page then got a legal warning to stop posting about particular Irish influencers, so the page died down. All the while a reddit thread was going where people were continuing to discuss the issues that they had with Irish Influencers. Then at the start of this month a new Instagram page was set up called bullshittcalleroutter (which has since been deleted) and things just exploded.
The page was sharing pictures of Irish Influencers at events where they were photographed versus the highly stylised and heavily photoshopped images that they were sharing on Instagram. It was also highlighting other issues that were frustrating people.
Now anyone who has ever been on the internet knows that comment sections can and do get out of hand, but in fairness to most of these accounts there was an effort by admins to stay on topic and not to be derogatory about anyone. A number of Influencers then “fought back” and announced an anti-bullying campaign that only resulted in more people finding out about the pages. In a matter of days bullshittcalleroutter had 60,000 followers. The drama was all over social media and in the newspapers. And honestly, it should be. There are a lot of points that needed to be brought to wider attention.
We’re going to dedicate a whole piece on this next week because it’s just so problematic and worrying, but for now here’s just a brief overview. A few Irish Influencers were accused of photoshopping their images. And by altering pictures we don’t mean throwing a filter over photos and working your best angles. We mean airbrushing 2 stone off themselves, halving their waists and flattening their stomachs.
Joanne Larby a.k.a The Makeup Fairy was brought up numerous times as an example of someone who was excessively editing photographs on her Instagram that were radically different from how she looked at events. Before the Influencer Scandal erupted Joanne was promoting a Beauty, Fitness & Wellness workshop. All details of the workshop have since been deleted.
Top Irish Influencer Rosie Connolly was called out for airbrushing her skin. Rosie like a lot of women suffers from acne and was understandably struggling with it. But Rosie participated in an ad campaign for Rimmel where she shared an image that was very noticeably airbrushed. This is against advertising guidelines in Ireland as it’s seen as false advertisement. Rosie apologised and said that she’s done with promoting a ‘false idea’. Taking to her Snapchat at the time she said ‘I never edited my body but I definitely edited my skin. And I think, I’m like do you know what, people are right, I’m just not going to do it anymore.’
Buying followers and buying likes.
A lot of Influencers got called out on these pages and forums for buying followers. There are a number of websites where anyone can buy followers. For €10 you can instantly buy 1000 followers. Influencers with a bigger following get more work from brands than smaller bloggers. But the reality is that smaller bloggers have a genuine following as opposed to fake bots. Erika Fox spoke really well about this last year. Just to stress not every Blogger or Influencer with a big following has been guilty of this, but if you take a closer look it starts to become very obvious who’s guilty of this. Niamh O’Sullivan from Cinnamon Soul had a great post on how you can pick out the genuine people on social media and more information on why it’s so bad for businesses when bloggers buy followers.
Up front, we have no problem with people making money from the blogging industry. God Bless and all that, but it has gotten out of hand. People have been promoting the most ludicrous things on social media. Blogging used to be great because it was a genuine way to find out about a product before spending your money. We have seen Influencers flogging everything from washing powder, to dodgy birth control, weight loss tea and terrible makeup. There’s been a lot of “OMG I just love XX brand” thrown around Snapchat. Along with the very popular phase “I’ve been using it for months!” Oh, really? We spoke before about the blurred lines between being sent products and the lack of transparency in the blogging world. This was also an issue that has come up time and time again.
It’s morally wrong to be promoting tea to lose weight (for the love of god, don’t buy this, it does not work!!) and then photoshopping your pictures to show yourself in a way that is in no way how you look. Imagine you are suffering from low self-esteem or an eating disorder. You buy this tea thinking it will make you look like this Influencer, but when it doesn’t (and it won’t) image how much harder you would be on yourself. How much extra self-loathing you’d fuel. It’s dangerous and influencers need to start realising this.
What are you talking about?
Another big issue is with Influencers giving out fitness and weight-loss advice. There is now a campaign for bloggers to post a disclaimer if they are giving out unqualified nutrition or fitness advice online. It’s so dangerous for bloggers to be giving out information on things that they don’t have the full facts about. Yes, blogging and social media is supposed to be a bit like chatting with a friend, but there is a huge responsibility that goes along with it too.
A number of Influencers were accused of selling products purchased on AliExpress for huge mark ups. Although that’s just how business goes (how much do you think you’re favourite high street stores buy products for?) there was an implication initially that the products that they were selling were designed by them and were high-end pieces.
There have also been accusations against other Influencers who have their own cosmetics lines. It would appear that some people have been playing fast and loose about where their cosmetics come from. Like admitting in 2016 that products were from a white label brand, which means anyone can buy these products and put their own branding on them and sell them. Fast forward to last year there were claims that all products were especially made for the brand. Now, there’s nothing wrong with white label brands, if you are upfront about it. Apparently, even Kylie Jenner does it. There has also been allegations against a well known Irish brand owned by two Influencers who have been advertising that their eyelashes are cruelty free when in-fact they are not. Mink eyelashes are never cruelty-free unless they are faux mink.
And the winner is…
As the Irish Influencer Scandal went on some people put on their detective hats and started discovering some other issues with how Influencers conduct themselves. Terrie McEvoy was called out on rigging two competitions that she ran for Tower Jewellers so that her best friend and her brother’s partner won expensive pieces of jewellery. Terrie took to her Snapchat and confessed that the claims were true. Terrie has been very quiet since and comments were disabled on her Instagram.
Where does that leave us?
All together these issues have endlessly annoyed people. As consumers we are being sold something that is disingenuous and not true. A number of Influencers tried to cover themselves and tried to brush it all off. It quickly turned into a blame game. It was firstly called bullying, then it was the ASAI‘s fault for not being clear. Just like any job there are responsibilities that come with it. It’s jut not good enough to say that you didn’t know.
It’s frustrating that certain people thought that this sort of behaviour was acceptable. And that they also don’t feel like they should answer to anyone over their actions. It’s also disheartening to a lot of bloggers who put so much time and energy into working on their blogs and YouTube channels and conduct themselves in an honest way.
We all make mistakes, but this was a constant campaign of deception. These issues were raised numerous times before, but Influencers just ignored it and kept going down this road. If you conduct yourself in a dishonest way you should expect to be called out on it. It’s not public shaming or bullying, which is actually insulting to people who have been bullied.
We hope that the Irish Influencer Scandal brings about some change in the industry. We would like to see people acknowledge the responsibility that goes along with their job. No more photoshopping. End of story. Your excuses are no longer good enough. We also hope that the people who put in the time and effort get more of an opportunity to shine.
If you’re looking for some genuinely awesome Irish bloggers to follow we have a rundown of some of our favourites.
What are your thoughts on the Irish Influencer Scandal? Did it shock or surprise you?