Social Media: When Big Business and Scams Infiltrate Our For-You Pages

Tiny influencers and liars and scams, oh my!


Hannah Greene, Staff Writer

Growing up, almost everyone I knew wanted to be famous. Remember back in kindergarten? When we were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We would say “pop star” or “actor!” Now, my Gen-Alpha cousins want to be YouTubers, TikTokers, and Instagrammers. They want to be influencers

In the last ten years, online platforms have surged into the mainstream media with people all over the world engaging with and relating to the content they see online. With this boom in popularity—of course—-comes the people (and corporations) that rise with it. These people, better known as influencers, are rewarded not just with followers but with brand recognition, too. All-inclusive trips to the Bahamas, designer accessories, and luxury cars seemingly all for one measly post where they thank a fast-fashion brand, like Shein or Fashion Nova, for their “continuous support.” So, what happens when tens of millions of young people copy them, start their careers online, and become micro-influencers?

TikTok User Statistics (2022)

Micro-influencers can be described as people with less than ten thousand followers on any social media platform, but what sets them apart from the average social media user is that they actually get these same brand sponsorshipswhich has its pros and cons. There have been many reports of cheap online clothing realtors paying small influencers in “free” items of clothing.

These young influencers, starting at TikTok’s age requirement of thirteen, can be easily taken advantage of. They have to dedicate their entire accounts to posts sucking up to these scam-like brands. Of course, these small accounts are perfect marketing opportunities for brands, because it costs them virtually nothing to send cheap clothing, to in turn receive cheap promotion.

Besides smaller fashion or review accounts, TikTok has also seen a rise in the number of dishonest businesses being promoted on the app. Apart from the hard-working owners of genuine small businesses, dishonest would-be entrepreneurs also use the space to buy and sell cheap trinkets, passing them off as their own handiwork. There should be a greater discussion around the masses buying these inexpensive items from big corporations, the type that hire underpaid children and teenagers, who are forced to work inhumane hours. This is harmful, as these dishonest and naïve business owners often don’t realize what corporations or factories they’re really supporting when purchasing their cheap merchandise.

Not every problem in our society can be solved by blaming it on social media, but there are some real-life issues that apps like TikTok are partially responsible for that need to stop. So many people want to be famous, but when dishonest brands and capitalism take control, is it really worth it? Next time you consider signing yourself up for the “influencer lifestyle,” or purchasing a trinket from a cheap business, stop and consider whether your money and support is going to the right place. Because, we’re exposed to mountains of content online every day, and you never know which business or influencer is around the corner, ready to take your money and time.