Tiffany Mitchell, a Nashville-based Instagram influencer has been criticized for allegedly faking the story of her motorcycle accident and using it as an opportunity to promote a water brand.
On July 31 Tiffany shared the story of her road accident with her 216k Instagram followers. She told how she misjudged a curve and went off the road and posted a series of pictures of the accident. Luckily, the girl was not injured and initially, the whole story inspired a lot of sympathetic comments from her followers.
However, soon after that, some readers started to question the genuineness of the accident. They found the artsy looking photos of the accident captured on camera and posted on Instagram somewhat suspicious. Some of the commenters noticed that Tiffany took off her helmet, while the law requires that it should stay on in the majority of circumstances. Also, a bottle of Smartwater positioned on one of the pictures looked particularly controversial and prompted the suggestion that the accident was deliberately staged for brand placement purposes.
Mitchell denied the allegations, stating that “would never turn a very important personal story like this into a brand campaign”. The influencer accused Buzzfeed of sensationalizing the whole story and making a mockery of the post she shared.
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I’ve been figuring out how to respond to everything that’s unfolded recently regarding the post I shared 3 weeks ago about my moto accident. I won’t get into that post here (see my Moto Accident story highlight for all the details), but I want to talk about the reactions I’ve been getting to the article @buzzfeednews posted sensationalizing what I went through that day, and making a mockery of the post I shared. As a result, I’ve been accused of staging the accident to get attention, using it as a product placement opportunity with a water company, and other things I can’t even wrap my head around. I’ve been sharing real life stories here since I started my account. I’ve opened up about miscarriage, divorce, anxiety, losing my partner in a moto accident 3 years ago, and navigating the grief that followed. I’ve chosen to use Instagram as a tool for healing and connecting with other humans who may be going through similar things so we can do it together. And it’s been beautiful. When I work with brands, they’re ones I personally enjoy, and I disclose every single sponsorship. Accusing someone of faking or exploiting an accident is extremely serious—because what if you’re wrong? It really happened to me, and I was scared. I really was injured and had to recover. I was in shock laying on the side of the road, having flashbacks to when I lost someone very important to me. Friends were by my side, strangers called an ambulance, waited while I was checked out and then gave me a ride home. When I found out my professional photographer friend who I’d been shooting with earlier took photos of everything, I was completely moved. I shared this on my feed with humans who have been on a journey with me for years because I knew they would understand what it meant to me and I understood what it would mean to them. I’m sad that something so true and personal has been treated this way, and disappointed in BuzzFeed for spinning it there. I would just ask that if you’re here because of this, consider that the post I made was something real that happened in my life that resonated deeply with me and those who have chosen to follow me. That’s what it was intended for. ??
“Accusing someone of faking or exploiting an accident is extremely serious—because what if you’re wrong? It really happened to me, and I was scared. I really was injured and had to recover,” she wrote.
Smartwater representatives also denied that they had a sponsorship deal with Mitchell. However, the harm had been already done. Has Mitchell made up the story to increase her social media influence, or has she become a victim of undeserved accusations? While we may not know the whole truth, the story itself reveals the crisis of the social media influencer industry.
People have become increasingly disillusioned with the influencers whose stories tend to be less authentic and more photoshopped, filtered and staged to perpetuate the idea of a picture-perfect life. People are so tired of influencers lying about their life, that their first reaction is usually skepticism.