Digital anthropologist Dr Crystal Abidin discusses the rise and fall of online celebrities.
On the internet, anyone has the potential to become a celebrity. Some actively seek internet fame by carefully cultivating their online identity; while others may become unwitting internet celebrities when a stray, unflattering image of themselves is used as the subject of a meme.
In this episode, David is joined by digital anthropologist Dr Crystal Abidin, to discuss the rise and fall of both ‘deliberate’ and ‘accidental’ online celebrities.
Curtin University supports academic freedom of speech. The views expressed in The Future Of podcast may not reflect those of the university.
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You can read the full transcript for the episode here.
Jess (intro): 00:01 This is The Future Of, where experts share their vision of the future and how their work is helping shape it for the better.
David: 00:09 I'm David Blayney. On the internet, anyone has the potential to become a celebrity. Some actively seek internet fame by carefully cultivating their online identity; while others may become unwitting internet celebrities when a stray, unflattering image of themselves is used as the subject of a meme. To discuss the future of this topic further, with me today is Dr Crystal Abidin, a digital anthropologist and senior research fellow in internet studies at Curtin University. Thank you for coming in today, Crystal.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 00:38 Thanks for having me, David.
David: 00:40 Are we going to reach a stage, or perhaps more accurately, have we reached the point where internet celebrities have become more recognisable than traditional separate celebrities – your A-list Hollywood actors and such?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 00:54 It really depends on which markets you're looking at. If I were to take the biggest YouTubers from the Global North today and show them to a group of teenagers, they would probably identify with the YouTubers or recognise them more so than someone from Hollywood. But if we're talking in terms of, say, earning power, public recognition, the types of awards and accolades that they get, I would say that the systems are set up in parallel such that big brands and businesses seem to be flocking to your internet celebrities for a different type of impact as opposed to traditional celebrities who may have a more limited range in who they can appeal to. So they've got different functions and you can't really compare them that way.
David: 01:39 And how do you mean by a 'different kind of impact'?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 01:42For instance, if I was part of a company wanting to promote luxury goods, then our variety of products and services would probably work well with Hollywood celebrities who have an allure of glittering, shimmering, aspirational lifestyles. But if I was trying to sell you a fast-moving consumer good and needed someone to be relatable, every day, your girl next door, Hollywood celebrities are not going to be able to convince me of that. An everyday, ordinary internet celebrity who feels more relatable would probably best be able to do the job.
David: 02:17 Social media influencers are on the rise. If you watch (Australian Broadcasting Corporation's) Media Watch, for example, much of it's related to advertising and selling things, but there's much more to it than that is there?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 02:31 Yeah. It always frustrates me when people ask questions about influencers and it's down to: 'How much money can they bring in?', 'How many followers do they have?', 'How much product can they push?' Today, a lot of media coverage equates influencers to just sheer advertising. And yes, that is true, but I think a more accurate way to think about the function of these influencers is that they're amplifiers of information. They are literally people who have cultivated such intensive and engaging nodes of followers. Or, they have this amazing ability to cut through all the white noise in the internet, such that if you were to put out a message through them, whatever that sponsored message is, whether it's for a product, a service, politics, environmental, social causes, they would be able to employ the message to a target audience that is best suited for the message. I think that's a more generous and all-encompassing description of their role in society today.
David: 03:27 For example, you could have a social media influencer selling a particular brand of watch, but also promoting an environmental campaign or a health campaign from the government.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 03:40 For sure. My favourite examples are your LGBT YouTubers who are primarily young people these days. On the one hand, with the long tradition of coming-out videos on YouTube, these are young people carving a space online to tell their own stories, to find like-minded others to share resources. The second step is we see them building networks of followers, fans, equal compatriots that they can speak to online in order to share life stories when things get difficult. But when they emerge as role models in this industry and people respect them for their leadership, then it's easy to layer the endorsements or the products and services that they may push out. For instance, anything from sexual health messages to LGBT ally support services to maybe even just things like fashion and things that are a bit more fun and frivolous in life. These groups of people, I feel, are your exemplars in teaching us how it's important to always unify the intimacy and the advocacy building first, before putting in all the commercial messages. If you go straight to the advertising from Day One, it's really difficult to gain rapport and it's not any different from just a billboard or a paid ad on social media.
David: 04:51 And people can see right through it as well.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 04:53 Obviously, so much of this detective fan work happens in the comment section and you see this on Twitter. Almost every other day, there is a hashtag #someoneisoverparty. 'We're cancelling this other person'. This person is now no longer in trend. Users respond these days in throngs and social media platforms and hashtags allow these messages to be amplified so that more people are able to make decisions, be more critically aware about who they support or who they lend their 'eyeball time' to.
David: 05:23 Are social media influencers a new phenomenon or do just have a new platform to spread their message?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 05:33 The idea of someone who's an ordinary person, who is your peer or who may be roped in to endorse or push out messages to you, is super old. I remember going to school in the '90s and the cool popular kids were sometimes given free sneakers or limited edition sports t-shirts just to wear in school or in class outings, because there were brands who wanted to use them as organic grassroots converters or amplifiers of their brand image. Now, we see this more clearly and more systematically in a pattern on social media because we can now roll through so many examples of these ordinary people who are seeding messages, seeding brand awareness to us. For the most part, I don't think a lot of us are even able to identify the smallest of these influencers – the nano influencers, the micro influencers who are doing more peer-to-peer conversation, who are doing more brand engagement through peer recommendation systems rather than looking all glamorous and pushing up products on YouTube, which we're already trained to identify. So suddenly these new strategies have required us to be a bit more astute in picking up when we are being advertised to.
David: 06:46 And of course if you've ever left a review for a restaurant on Yelp or even just given a recommendation on Facebook for a business, I guess we're all in that sense a bit of a nano influencer.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 06:56 I think everyone has the capacity to be some sort of an endorser. And if you want to talk about just influence in terms of impact or persuasion, everyone is an influencer. If I leave Curtin and endorse it to someone else, if I've gone to a restaurant and left a review, if I've left you a testimonial on Friendster or Myspace, back when we still had those spaces.
David: 07:13 Blast from the past.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 07:13Exactly, but when we talk about influencers as a career though; these are people who are in it with big stakes. They are not just your active people who do persuasion; they're literally experts in decorum and intimacy online and parasocial relations, and even knowing how to use all the digital tech to produce the best pictures, best videos. There are also digital strategies, knowing what to put out there and what time of the day, which platforms, which target groups and I think it's really sad when we reduce them just to 'people who look good online who know how to sell you stuff', because we often do not really value all the other skills that comes with being a good successful influencer.
David: 07:57 And they've got to have a team behind them as well.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 08:00 It really depends. Some people in my fieldwork that I've met, and it's public information, may have up to 12 people in their team. Some of them may be some of the biggest names in their own countries, on some platforms, but are still either doing it on their own or might have a part-time assistant. Or, more popularly these days, roped into a romantic partner to be also their business partner, which is why we have the phenomenon of the quote, end quote, hashtag #instagramhusbands, where your boyfriends or your husbands are also your default photographer, videographer, food critic driver, et cetera.
David: 08:34 Something about romantic partner and business partner doesn't quite... gel, I dunno.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 08:39 Yeah. I follow a lot of stories from influencers with whom I've got a really good rapport, over 10 years of research, who tell me about the 'nitty gritty' and a lot of the relationship frictions that emerge from this. But, if we were to reframe this as a sort of family business model, it makes complete sense. Being an influencer, a 24/7, on-the-go job all the time will bleed into your personal life so much. It's probably more convenient logistically or it's probably more authentic or safe for the influencer to trust someone already in their personal milieu to know this much about them as to producing content. So, depending on how this works for them, I don't want to pass judgment on whether it's good or bad. I just want to say it works really well for some people and perhaps not so well for others.
David: 09:23 Whenever you see a political advertisement, it always ends with, you know, 'authorised by XYZ, ABC, etc'. Advertising has to be clearly delineated, clearly marked. Do you think the law has a bit of catching up to do when it comes to this sort of social media influencer work?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 09:45 Yeah. So globally, many countries have instituted laws that require influencers to disclose their ads. Not just disclose this, but to really put this in a very clear format that's easily understood. So for instance, from my past research on the Nordic countries, this is down to font size, clarity of language, nativeness of language. Where do you position this in your captions? Or where do you position this in the video? There's no getting away with hashtag #ad, as if we're meant to understand that this means it's advertorial. In some other countries though, these guidelines are a bit more loose and lax, a lot of agencies or ombudsmen come together, push out best practices but nothing is really enforced. And, whenever there is a new controversy, influencers may come up with different ways to strategise around. It really comes down to standardising. But above and beyond that it comes down to catching up. The platforms keep changing by the day, the strategies for influencing keep changing by the day. We really need to keep up with the times because these young people are experts in being able to find loopholes or being able to creatively innovate to make that space work for them.
David: 11:06 How are we doing in in Australia in this respect?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 11:09 In my understanding there are a lot of best practices and guidelines. Oftentimes some of the worst case examples get brought up as a reminder that all influencers have to abide by rules. Some influencers who are tied to multichannel networks or to agencies are a little bit more stringently policed or massaged by their managers to do so. But for the most part there is not anyone actually screening every single example of this and calling people out on specific platforms and their different features. So, let's say Instagram and stories, where the default is for your short videos and pictures to disappear after 24 hours, those formats lend themselves to be extremely difficult to police. So I don't think it's naught for naught wanting to do so. It's also coming up with strategies to keep up with the times.
David: 12:00 Social media influencers aren't just in Australia. Tell us about about blogshops.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 12:07 Right. This is one of my favorite questions, perhaps. So my original expertise is on internet celebrity and influencers in Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Blogshops, as you've mentioned, are perhaps the first generation of what would become influencers in the Southeast Asian context. Around about the early-to-mid 2000s, many young Southeast Asian women were taking to blog platforms, like LiveJournal or Blogger to put up pictures of themselves wearing used clothing. This was supposed to be an upgraded iteration of a flea market, which was all the rage at that time, where young women could barter, exchange or sell used clothing for a small profit. So they were literally shops on blogs, therefore blogshops.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 12:52 Many of these young women organically gained followers or fans in that space of time. The reason being is that many people asked online, 'Can you give me more advice about fashion?' And then it shifted into 'You have a great body, you look healthy. Can you tell me about your beauty regime, your exercise regime, your food and dietary preferences?' Oftentimes these women also posted pictures of their clothes, in the wild, in natural lighting, i.e. just good old photographs you took while you were out with your friends. This, of course, sparked a lot of trends of curiosity, of people asking 'Can you tell me about this boy?', 'Do you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?', 'Can you tell me and give me advice about dating, which restaurants to try?', 'What is a good gift to give for an anniversary present?' So, organically, at least in Southeast Asia, the first generation of influencers emerged out of this organic need for young girls to communicate, engage with each other – at first to make small amounts of pocket money, later on to foster friendships and build expertise around all sorts of girl cultures and then eventually spring boarding into having brand names for themselves, setting up blogs and then all the other types of social media that we have now today,
David: 14:05 Earlier you mentioned Friendster and Myspace, which got me thinking what happens when a platform closes down? Cause Vine used to be a thing. That's gone. Gee Vine was fun. What happens once a platform closes down?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 14:21 It is so sad. Well first we all grieve and then when we chat with memes and hashtags online, we all comfort each other about how old we've become, because it probably matters nothing to young people who probably have never used Vine or Friendster or Myspace. So, that's the reality check, especially for a researcher like me who is increasingly growing older while researching increasingly young people who are so smart and so savvy. But this really highlights to us the precarity of influencers in this industry. Every time you read news reports, they tend to highlight extreme examples. 'Who is making millions of dollars? Who is the youngest child topping even a Vice Chancellor's earnings from a top university' or 'Who is embroiled in a scan? Who is cheating us? Who's got a breakup?' We seldom hear of the really, really important and normative middle ground or the long-tail of people just doing good work, minding their own business, making a good living out of this online advertising space.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 15:16And every time a platform changes its algorithms or changes a feature slightly, let alone completely disappear and die overnight, a lot of influencers experience a lot of disruptions to their business. Case in point: let's look at Instagram removing the number of likes you can see in each of your posts. When that was first announced, so many of the influencer agencies I worked with just fell into scrambles, perhaps over one or two days, but then they immediately went to strategising: 'What can we do?, 'What's the next step?', What do we have to preempt?' For many influencers, one of the strategies that a lot of people adopted was to leave a comment under every single one of their Instagram posts and people liking that comment became a proxy for them actually liking the post because the comment still featured the number of likes and it was also registering that.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 16:09 So sure, I may not be able to see the number of likes and your posts, but my fans and my followers and young people who are in the know already know where the barometer has shifted and what the new benchmark is. For some of the influencers though, who may not be as savvy or for some of the features that keep changing more quickly than influencers can keep up with, we want to consider the precarity of influencers in a very volatile gig industry. Basically not a lot of these influencers are signed up with unions or have managers, or backend staff to protect them or their rights. If platforms disappear, their rights will disappear, their intellectual property disappears. Sometimes this means that overnight, from a Vine star you become a nobody, unless you're quick enough or savvy enough to adept to, say, YouTube, like some Vine stars were able to do. But if not, it'd probably just adversely affects your mental health by always having to keep up with the platforms. It affects your earnings. And as time goes by, we are really left with the cream of the crop or the cream of the crop will have financial resources to hire people to do this sort of risk planning or to come up with contingency plans every time a small glitch or a small movement is made on social media.
David: 17:24 Andy Warhol once said that we would all have 15 minutes of fame, which is remarkable foresight. I can't believe it how true that ended up being. Tell us about the rise of the 'accidental' celebrity, the person whose face becomes a sensation.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 17:44 I have so many feelings about this. I don't know where to begin. Let's start with a nice feel-good story before we get into like the really angsty 'life is racist' stuff, right? So we often see people who accidentally become memes, sometimes, although most of the time not because they're image trends when they look drop-dead gorgeous often in East Asian countries. Or, they might be caught in compromising positions and people can make jokes out of them in this position. It may be a very relatable template or visual image that people can modify, remix and then adept through many adaptations.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 18:19 Now a lot of these meme celebrities that have proceeded to embrace their fame have tried to springboard into influencers. For example on YouTube, one famous example that a lot of my students enjoy would be the Overly Attached Girlfriend . And she's managed to craft a brand image for herself around this. We also have examples that are less successful, like Bad Luck Brian, who did try to monetise his fame, did go for a few VidCons that tried to sell t-shirts of his image, but that may not have caught on as well as he would have liked. That is a bit of a feel-good story, because these are people who have embraced the fame, sometimes, maybe even supported it or stimulated it by contributing to the rise of their memeification online. On the flip side though, a lot of people also become memes for a variety of negative reasons. Probably out of bad publicity, sometimes because they're being shamed online for all sorts of behaviours. In the Southeast Asian context, name and shame culture on social media is so large. Anyone can go viral based on a Facebook post or a picture that someone secretly took of them and put on Twitter.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 19:29 These people, though, when they become memes in this light, it's almost completely impossible to remove the image. Some people have tried to tell their version of the story to explain behind the scenes, to plead with people to not use that image, has not gone well. Some of the famous examples like Beyoncé, who once was once caught in a very compromising position during a concert and (the internet) came up with the Beyoncé Hulk meme. Legend has it and I say 'Legend has it', for disclaimer purposes, that she and her team tried to remove the picture from the internet and that had a reverse effect because–
David: 20:04 Streisand effect.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 20:05 Exactly! And because they tried to curb people's sharing or to try and reduce the spreadability of that mean. A lot of users, especially on forums like Reddit, intentionally put an effort to spread the meme even further and even wider. We have seen similar examples happen to many other celebrities who may have had a more lighthearted approach and instead joined into fun, started memeing themselves, and that seems to have helped those memes die a natural death a lot quicker. So again, depending on how you want to treat your viral fame, what you want to do with being memed, and also more importantly perhaps also the tone of your meme? What message does it carry? What is it interlocking with? Is it a good meme, a bad meme? Does it name and shame you in terms of doxing you from public shaming or is it just a cute baby who is caught eating a lemon or in a compromising position that we can laugh off? All of these factors come into play for deciding the lifecycle of that virality.
David: 21:06 Tell us about your research into social media and it being used for bad.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 21:11 Right. A lot of my colleagues and I have long debated at about the current president of the US and how he's got his own quirks in using social media. And for a very long time in specific countries or regimes in Asia, many people have had to battle with different types of draconian censorship laws in the country, different types of media protocol for what can be said in public space, in traditional media or even online. So, for this reason, we have found that just based in the Asian or specifically Southeast Asian context, people are pressured to become creative and innovative when they want to put out specific messages. Whether pertaining to dissent or sometimes just negative feedback in general, social media popular culture has been a really effective vehicle to do that. On the one hand, if you do not have any context and no political awareness, if you were to watch, say, a Beyoncé parody video or a meme or listen to another viral song, you can consume that on the surface level with sheer entertainment.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 22:20 If you had a pop culture context and you knew that this screengrab was from a film that referenced political points or that a lot of Beyoncé songs were championing Black Lives Matter movements or feminist rights, then you might be able to glean a second layer pointing to the politics. But if you are a local person who understood these parody artists or these influencers and people who are generating social media pop culture, then you get perhaps the most astute layer, which is critical commentary, whether on the government, the state of affairs, social issues and country, et cetera, which I find just super smart and intelligent. We are not focused on gatekeeping access to these resources. We are letting them free flow and free roam on the internet because all the deciphering and gatekeeping happens up here in your mind. If you've got the context, good for you: enter Level Two, Level Three. If you don't, this is still a nice entertaining, fun format to consume and you might still help to distribute it by passing it on. And I think that is probably the beauty of social media being weaponised. Whether for good or for bad, a lot of the creativity and embedding messages allows us to find Easter eggs and it's always thrilling to be able to decode them.
David: 23:34 Looking more broadly at the at social media influencers, where do you see things trending? What do you see in five or 10 years’ time?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 23:44 I think we're shifting away from a lot of what we feel is professional, aesthetic, high production value influencer presentations online. This is perhaps the post-Instagram bubble, where a lot of influencers were caught up in having only the picture-perfect, pristine versions of themselves online. It is for that reason that Snapchat took off really quickly. It's for that reason that the behind the scenes blooper reel on YouTube became a genre. Or that, when Instagram stories was introduced; it became the back channel for what was your untouched, pristine main Instagram feed.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 24:20 A lot of users these days are getting very savvy but also super bored of just picture-perfect influencers and a demand to return to the grassroots original of being yourself, being everyday, being amenable to faults, failures, having raw human genuine emotion. That demand, I feel, is a really good move because it takes us back to the grassroots origins that it was not always about money. But, more importantly, it tells us that our young viewers, our very savvy young people are super critical about what they're consuming. So I'm anticipating that now that this is the new norm, that we're heading towards. Also, considering new platforms like TikTok, allow us to show that type of calibrated amateurism a bit more.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 25:03 Since that is the default, it's going to be increasingly difficult to tease out who is an influencer, who is not, what is organic, what is sponsored, what is here as a genuine amplified message, versus what is here just as a throw-away sentiment. It's also not easy for us to just ask people to place a label to say if something was sponsored or not because these days being an influencer is not always tied to monetary earnings anymore. Some of the biggest influencers online may not even make a dime for what they do. Greta Thunberg, one of the best climate change activists of our generation right now, certainly does not think of herself as a commercial influencer, but many young people look to her as if she is one because of her message. So using money as the barometer, using sponsorship as the barometer for who is a good influencer is something that's probably going to be less and less important as time goes by.
David: 26:00 TikTok has been, well, I mean, you can't go on YouTube these days without seeing an ad for it. It's become a very big platform. How's TikTok being used in Australia?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 26:13 I am so glad you asked this question. So TikTok has been my newest research project in the last six months. I specifically have been looking at how it's been used in the Asia-Pacific in general. In Australia, there's so many trends that are extremely heart-warming and gives us so much confidence that the young people are okay, that the young people are all right. For instance, we have a lot of examples covered already in the popular press of young people using TikTok to spread awareness about climate change, rallying their friends to come for the climate change march. This always comes in a format, as I've mentioned before, that is entertaining, but it is also a very palatable format and they are trying to normalise the idea of being politically involved. They're also expanding the repertoire for how intensely you need to be in the scene to participate.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 27:02 It's not always about being on the picket line or writing lengthy essays on Facebook. If it means that you've got great skills in making memes or overlaying songs about climate change with cute graphics, that is where you're participating in helping in the long chain of things. Specific also to Australia, one of my other favourite trends is young people of mixed cultural backgrounds taking to TikTok and saying, 'This is what a Wasian looks like', 'Wasian' being a white Asian. Or, 'This is what my family looks like', 'This is what my hair looks like'. It feels like it's just a young person coming online showing off their beauty and glamour, but when put in context of the wave of movement of thousands of young people doing that, their basically building up this visual repository of what it looks like to be an Australian today. So much diversity, not just in skin color, but even in upbringing. So much of these stereotypes that we have ingrained in ourselves, are being pushed back based on these visual performances. But so much of this focus is also happening in the comment section when people ask, 'Is your mum really white?', 'Is your dad really Asian?', 'What kind of Asian is he?', 'What do you mean by an East Asian?', 'Aren't you just Asian, Asian?' And all these amazing conversations may not be happening in the most eloquent vocabulary, but it's young people speaking to young people in a vernacular that they enjoy. And I think that's where the everyday politics is happening right now.
David: 28:28 Tell us about virtual influencers... fake people on Instagram, influencing us.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 28:35 Yeah. Fake people is perhaps a very generous way of naming them. So more specifically these are 3D virtual renderings of human-like figures. It's not too different from say, hologram projections at lots of Japanese concerts that we often see, except that on Instagram, they're specifically crafted to look so humanlike and so live-like, that you are meant not to be able to tell that their actually 3D. It's a huge phenomenon. It's taken off since about 2016, even though it's got its early origins in 1990s Japanese pop culture, but it's perhaps one of those 'future of the influencer' next steps to take as it becomes more normalised in scale and also in norms and practices online.
David: 29:19 I had to look at one of these 3D holographic virtual influencers on your phone that you showed me and I couldn't tell. How are they able to do it?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 29:34 Right, so it's not that difficult if you're an expert artist and a skillful programmer. But the thing to remember though is when this phenomenon first exploded on Instagram, your exact conundrum was exactly what spurred so much interest in this topic. One of the most famous veteran influencers in our era is Lil Miquela on Instagram. She may not have been the first outside of Instagram, but certainly the one who has made this a bonafide topic of discussion. When she first sprang onto Instagram, a lot of the debate was: is she a really beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous model of all sorts of mixtures across different races and cultures? Is she someone who's just really bad at Photoshop and why she's beginning to look less human? Is she someone who's filled it herself and it's half 3D, half a real person? Or is she just completely 3D? And these types of speculations online really fuelled her growth as people started to follow her in throngs until she was eventually outed as, yes, a completely 3D imagination and entity. Following that, there were lots of other people who joined in this industry, including someone who's now her best friend, her best friend's boyfriend, a rival from a different company. They're even virtual influencer models of every skin shade, of every representative culture and country now online.
David: 30:55 And what are some other cool new things that we're seeing on social media?
Dr Crystal Abidin: 31:02 Perhaps something that we need to be more aware of is also the idea of meme factories. This relates to influencers because we oftentimes think that the comments, the likes that influencers get are genuine. We're also aware too that to a certain extent some of these might be bots or some of the likes and comments may be bought, but we also now need to know of another new level of trickery on the internet, which are meme factories or bot farms, where actual humans specifically set up many multiple accounts of themselves and then put up organic comments that they spam influencers feeds with. They are going through very high levels of detail not to replicate keywords, to space up the timings so that they cannot easily be detected by spam bots or spam mechanics online.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 31:52 That said the flip, flip side of this thing, that's even worse, are influencers sometimes sabotaging each other. Say for instance, I would like to expose a competitor of mine for fraud. It is common knowledge in the industry that sometimes behind the scenes I may purchase on your behalf, fake followers, fake comments and fake likes to sabotage you. So for that reason you will see now a lot of influencers who are putting their accounts to private by default, meaning that on Instagram they have to approve every single person that follows them. And this is a very high intensive way of weeding out such bots. But at the same time it cultivates FOMO (fear of missing out). If I can't always just click into account and snoop on you, but actually you have to subscribe, this inflates the number of followers who are now tuning into your material all the time.
David: 32:44 Okay. Well, I think that's a good note to end on. Gee, well, it's exciting stuff, social media. Thank you very much, Crystal, for coming in and sharing your knowledge on this topic.
Dr Crystal Abidin: 32:54 You're welcome. Thanks for having me and I'll see you on the internet.
David: 32:58 Or not. And thank you for listening. You've been listening to The Future Of, a podcast powered by Curtin University. If you have any questions about today's topic, please feel free to get in touch by following the links in the show notes. Bye for now.