Natalia Taylor, a popular YouTuber posted a series of photos on her Instagram that made it seem like she had traveled to a far-off exotic destination. There she was lounging in a fancy bathtub. In another, she posed in front of a floral print mirror.
“The queen has arrived,” she wrote in the caption. Her location: Bali, Indonesia.
But in a video she later posted to YouTube, she revealed the photos were staged in an Ikea.
The Instagram photos were all fictitious. And that, Taylor said, was the point.
“Sometimes, people want to lie about who they are,” she said in the YouTube video. “It’s not hard to do.”
Taylor and photographer Ally Amodeo held a photo shoot in different sections of the nearby Ikea.
The first set of photos featured a flower print mirror — it sure looked like a fancy hotel room. The baby blue wall phone only helped set the scene. The next shots showed Taylor posed on a sun lounger and in a bathtub, dressed in a white robe with a towel wrapped around her head.
At the same time, she also posted videos of Bali to her Instagram story. Some were sent from friends who had visited. Others she found online.
Her fans, of which there are more than 300,000, lapped it up.
“She really out here living her best life,” one observed. “Our Bali Princess,” said another.
There was one who noticed something awry — an Ikea price tag on a chair in the mirror’s reflection. It didn’t matter. The photos got tens of thousands of likes.
Bali, Taylor explained, was “the perfect place to fake an influencer vacation and lie to all of my followers.”
But she wasn’t trying to hoodwink them and cash in. She wanted to make a point.
“Today it is easier than ever to become anyone you want. That’s wonderful! But with great power comes great responsibility,” she said.
“As we all know, not everyone is transparent online.”
“We could all use a fun reminder to take social media less seriously,” she added. “And don’t believe everything you see online.”
So be warned — that influencer you are jealously watching travel the world might not be telling you every piece of the story. There’s a chance they never even left home at all.