A TikToker’s warning about red flags on dating apps is causing a stir on social media after it was learned that the influencer, ‘sydneyplus,’ isn’t actually a real person.
The name ‘sydneyplus’ might be a familiar one to TikTok regulars. In June, a number of outlets reported on sydney’s video discussing red flags that users might see on dating apps (like posing in front of an expensive car that probably isn’t theirs, or claiming they’re an “entrepreneur”).
Sydneyplus claimed to work at a dating app company, and as such, had a better read on who would make for a successful partner… but it turns out that this influencer doesn’t actually know the ins and outs of Tinder, after all.
Months after the TikTok was published, Vox’s Rebecca Jennings reported that syndeyplus is actually a character being played by an actress, and not a dating app insider.
@sydneyplusPublic service announcement 📣 ‼️Any big ones missing? 🧐 #foryou #fypシ #dating #datingapps♬ Into The Thick Of It! – The Backyardigans
Sydney’s character was actually created by a media company named FourFront, and is part of a much larger operation that includes a slew of other faux influencers.
Other fake TikTokers involved in the project include Tia, who is sidelined by the shocking information that her boyfriend is African Royalty, Ollie, a trans man who learns that his father has transitioned, and Carmen, who dubs herself an “Undisputed hottie, Fictional sugarbabe.”
What’s most shocking about this rabbit-hole of fake influencers is the sheer amount of followers they’ve managed to accrue. Sydney boasts a jaw-dropping half-million followers, while Tia has garnered 110,000 fans and Carmen a fair 66,000.
@thatsthetiaReply to @halliwell19 I- wha- so I’ve been flirting with MY EXES BROTHER!?!? ##dating ##royal ##boyfriend ##fictional ##relationship ##secrets ##fyp♬ original sound – Tia
Prior to Jenning’s eye-opening report, TechCrunch also divulged that FourFront had raised a whopping $1.5 million in seed funding in their efforts to define “a new type of storytelling.”
The storylines of these TikTokers have gained the attention of users on social media, where they are none too pleased about the fabrication — but especially by FourFront co-founder Ilan Benjamin’s statement that he’s essentially “creating an MCU-style universe of characters on TikTok.”
nothing quite like a big TikTok "by someone who actually works at a dating app co" which is by someone who actually is an actress playing a scripted role by a tech company trying to invent "an MCU-style universe of characters on TikTok" to remind us to not believe anything online pic.twitter.com/KYJVATc1Fp
— Chris🎃GameDevTraining.com (@ChrisDeLeon) October 20, 2021
ah yes they all exist in a single universe, also called "the fucking world, because people thought they were real people"
gosh this is incredibly dark
— Saavykas (@Saavykas) October 20, 2021
I think the thing I find most disturbing about influencers who sell themselves as a product is when they have kids and they incorporate the kids into their branding and persona. It’s so unscrupulous. The kids are too young to consent
— 🕸Moniza Hossain🕸 (@moniza_hossain) October 21, 2021
Of course, these are far from the first “fake” influencers out there. Instagram boasts a slew of fake CGI models, and the VTuber phenomenon has proven to be a hugely successful venture that media companies like Hololive have chased out on, big time.
All in all, it seems that FourFront’s TikTok project is inciting a conversation on consent and believability online — how are users supposed to tell between what’s real and what’s fake in such a situation?