Fyre Festival was known to be the greatest party that never happened in 2017. This festival is a great example to show how influential and manipulative social media can be. Fyre Festival also is a great example to show how celebrities and social media influencers can create rapid buzz to certain audiences. Billy McFarland, known to be the co-founder of Fyre Festival is not serving a six year prison sentence due to conning people. In this essay, I will discuss the scam advertisements and conning that Billy created. This essay will show how the online world can be unpredictable and untrustworthy. Social media can be seen as a strengthener for democratic figures to help with their false promises, as shown through Billy McFarland’s actions. The way McFarland takes advantage of social media to promote his scam, Fyre, clearly shows that social media can be a democratic space. Social media is seen as a democratic space because of how people can express themselves for example, twitter. Twitter was a significant social media platform helped to create awareness about Fyre.
Billy McFarland’s fantasy was to create the most luxurious and extravagant music festival. His way to promote this event was through the largest social media platforms such as instagram and twitter. Ja Rule the rapper was also involved but he did not know once that Billy was conning this whole festival. While watching Fyre on Netflix, it was mentioned how Billy promoted the event by mentioning how the location is on Pablo Escobar’s island and flying thousands of people on private jets to the Bahamas. Gabrielle Bluestone the journalist says, Fyre was the “coolest party you’d ever seen advertised”.
Billy McFarland promoted this event through instagram by “social media influencers” including socialite and model, Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Chanel, and Emily Ratajkowski. Billy suggested that these models post a picture on instagram with the hashtag, #fyrefestival to get more attention, which is shown on the Netflix documentary, Fyre. One of the women also posted the mannequin challenge on instagram to attract the pop culture audience. Kendall Jenner was paid $250,000 by wire transfer just to post this pos to promote attention and buzz:
When the models started posting pictures and using the hashtag, it caught a lot of attention to the viewers creating the festival to go viral. The Daily Mail talks about how they were hashtagging the “fyrefestival” as well. Billy mentions in the Fyre documentary, that he had “400 of the biggest people around the world, influencers, models, comedians, artists, actresses, and actors at the same time posting the ambiguous burnt orange Fyre tile. And there is a caption saying, join me at fyrefestival.com”.
After having these famous people posting images and creating more awareness, millions of people were expected to visit the site, which did happen. Fyre Festival then became sold out with people having high expectations without knowing that everything was a huge scam. Billy had advertised these luxurious accommodations and high end food but in reality, nothing was even close to what Billy had promised. Influencers were even promised a house on the beach after posting four images to promote the festival but the houses did not even exist. Everything was just all talk.
While watching the Fyre documentary, Billy McFarland was on a talk show and was interviewed. Billy mentioned how he had found a guy named Reggie Muscles on instagram and paid him $500 to get Ja Rule to perform at one of his events. The next day, Reggie brings in a guy named Gunner and Gunner asked for $1000 if he wanted Ja Rule to perform. So, Billy went along with it and paid him the money for Ja Rule to perform but Reggie contacted Billy back saying how Ja Rule hates your offer. This is another example of how there are many ways people can con and scam you because it is that easy to make someone believe something in the online world.
Through Billy’s strategies of using influencers to post on social media, he created a lot of hype. After all the hype and awareness, Billy created a Fyre app that had the potential to be a billion dollar platform. He also created more awareness through getting in touch with a Fuckjerry.. Fuckjerry published Ja Rule’s pitch about Fyre in order to get more views and attention. Ja Rule and Billy also decided to create a promotional shoot that ended up more like a party as it featured an open bar, party, and drinking. Celebrities had a huge impact on promoting this festival because that is how many people get information and that is how things go viral. When the people had arrived to the festival, everything turned out to be a huge lie because nothing turned out to be the way that they thought it would be. They were offered fast food and accommodation that looked nothing like what was promoted online and what was bought for. There were no celebrities or music. Everything was a joke.
Below are some images captured from the fake festival:
This is supposed to be the dome shaped room that was advertised “luxurious”.
This was the meal that was provided to them.
This Fyre festival is a great example to show how someone like Billy can easily trick people and create a huge lie on social media. Social media platforms are a great place to promote and advertise events especially when you have celebrities and influencers creating awareness. Now, the island workers are in a lot of debt because of everything that Billy initiated but never followed through with his plans. There is a fundraising campaign for the Bahamian Restaurant due to the debt Billy left them in. They have raised over $140,000. Due to Billy’s illegal actions and conning people, now he is sentenced six years in prison for wire-fraud. Fyre Festival shows how people have their own right to post what they want on social media platforms because of our democratic society.
Dailymail.com, Sheila Flynn For. “Inside the Fyre Festival Disaster: No Toilets, Music, Beds or Even an Island until Last Minute.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 16 Jan. 2019, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6599023/Inside-Fyre-Festival-disaster-No-toilets-music-beds-island-minute.html.
Willingham, AJ. “Donations Are Rolling in for a Bahamas Restaurant Owner Who Lost Money in the Fyre Festival Fiasco.” CNN, Cable News Network, 22 Jan. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/entertainment/fyre-festival-maryann-rolle-gofundme-trnd/index.html.
Nilles, Billy. “Fyre Festival’s Failure Was Only the Tip of the Iceberg: Inside Billy McFarland’s Greatest Party That Never Was.” E! Online, E! News, 19 Jan. 2019, www.eonline.com/ca/news/1006719/fyre-festival-s-failure-was-only-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-inside-billy-mcfarland-s-greatest-party-that-never-was.Chris Smith,
“Fyre.” Netflix, 2019.