January 21, 2021
The documentary Fake Famous, about social media influencers, will debut on HBO Max and HBO Feb. 2.
From first-time director and veteran journalist Nick Bilton, the film explores the industry of social media influencers through a social experiment. The film’s journey is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers. By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to “engage” with their social media, the newly made “influencers” discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle. Each of their stories illuminates the ephemeral world of online influence and the realities of a lifestyle based largely on fantasy.
Bilton, a technology journalist, explores a fundamental question: What is fame and influence in the digital age? There are now hundreds of millions of people on social platforms who have such large followings that they are considered to be a new kind of celebrity. But are they really famous? Bilton and his team set out to explore what it all really means. Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous illuminates our obsession with the numbers of likes, followers and favorites we get, and how most of our online world is much more fabricated than we realize.
Joining Bilton in providing insights into today’s social media landscape are interviewees including New York Times technology reporter Taylor Lorenz; Liz Eswein of @newyorkcity; Bloomberg technology reporter Sarah Frier; Justine Bateman, author of “Fame: The Hijacking of Reality”; and others.