During Coachella weekend, YouTube and Instagram’s Gabbie Hanna posted a series of pictures of herself at the festival.
Wearing colourful wigs, she posted images of herself in front of the stage and some of her seated on the lawns, with the backdrop of other festival revellers.
The posts, which received hundreds of thousands of likes on the social media platform, looked authentic, and Hanna looked like she was having fun.
But, she was never at Coachella.
It turns out it was a ruse to showcase that social media is not what it seems to be.
She shared her inspiration and what went into sharing the "fake images" in a 20-minute video on YouTube.
UK blogger Carolyn Stritch also highlighted in a series of images that what you see on social media may not always be authentic.
The 32-year-old “treated” herself to a trip to Disneyland for her 22nd birthday.
She said the idea for the experiment came after she downloaded FaceApp and uploaded a heavily-edited photo to Facebook. No one questioned it. She decided to trick her thousands of followers into believing she was 10 years younger and in Disneyland, which most of them believed.
Travel influencers like these are raising the important question: “How much travel content on social media is authentic?”
Travel blogger Tupi Saravia was outed in August for photoshopping her images with fake clouds.
Another blogger Johanna Olsson photoshopped images of her at Paris landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. She claimed at the time the reason why she photoshopped the images was that she did not think it “looked nice”. Olsson maintains she was in Paris.
These types of influencers portray a negative image of what travel means and leave many of their followers disappointed when they end up booking trips to experience the place for themselves.
Travel influencer Uyapo Ketogetswe said many travel influencers were competing with each other to have the best photographs.
“Everyone is trying to outdo a picture they’ve seen. Most of the content created tends to be exaggerated or overly staged. It can also be dangerous when people hang on for dear life over cliffs in a bid to get the best picture.
“I like to call this the best picture syndrome, which has led people to create content for likes and comments,” he said.
The 27-year-old said people who were enticed to travel held high regard for what influencers posted and expected to experience the place in the same way.
“Many people travel for reconnecting and realigning purposes, and when they reach a destination that was wrongly advertised or sold, they can’t achieve what they set out to accomplish. Many factors go into travel, including the cost, time, purpose, to name a few, so posting fake images takes away from other people’s experiences,” he added.