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A completely automated Instagram account has been blagging free meals and discounts for its creator, a data scientist, who know claims he can do the same for you.
Influencers could soon be a thing of the past as savvy developers replace them with bots to do all the influencing while they take all the junkets or advertising revenue. Data scientist Chris Buetti wrote a Medium post about how he created a 100% automated Instagram account called @beautiful.newyorkcity that amalgamated other people’s photos of the Big Apple in its account, accrued a following of some 25,000 by initially following them in the hope they would follow back.
New York City is always a good idea 🗽💥 📷 CREDIT: @newphotoyork / @cheryl.hills / @supremenewyork / @nyonair / @icapture_nyc / @ig_nycity / @newyork_instagram / @canonusa / @champion / @flynyon / @agameoftones / @streets_vision / @moodygrams / @moodyports Follow @bigleaguetravel for more travel photos! . . . . #newyork #America #ny #nyc #newyorkcity #bigcity #street #usa #UnitedStates #city #citylife #urbanism #photo #megapolis #urban #urbanporn #architectureporn #skyscraper #american #vsco #vscocam #photoftheday #photogrid #cityscape #travel #architecture #landscape #earth #instanyc
As the accounts following grew, Buetti began posting images of restaurant dishes with positive reviews about the food. He then automated Instagram messages to restaurants soliciting for a free meal, a discount or gift card in exchange for a positive review. He even set up an email alert when a restaurant responded so all he had to do was literally go and enjoy his meal.
While Buetti didn’t inform any of the restaurants that @beautiful.newyorkcity was run by a bot, he doesn’t at all seem conflicted about taking their free hospitality in exchange for exposure. Indeed most New York City bars and restaurants have a marketing budget that this would fall into and seeing as all the followers are in fact real live human beings with eyes, well, the restaurant is still getting their pound of flesh for their pound of rare steak.
The say robots are coming for our jobs and now you can add ‘influencer’ to the growing list of defunct professions under threat from the rise of the robots. Deep fakes are already here and pretty soon we won’t be able to tell who is real and who is a bot-generated virtual.
In January the cute Japanese pink-haired model Imma went viral, except she wasn’t real but completely computer generated. She appeared on Instagram late last year with the claim in her bio that she is a virtual girl who wants “to attract humans to the fashion show” and quickly amassed a cult following, currently at 41K followers.
It’s not a completely new phenomenon. Virtual influencer Lil Miquela has 1.5M followers and has advertised for Prada, and Shudu, who is considered the world’s first supermodel virtual influencer with 159K followers, has advertised for Rhianna’s cosmetics brand Fenty lipstick. It would seem there is an appetite out there for advertisers when it comes to virtual influencers.
If the robots do come for the influencers though, does anyone really care?