Emily Anne Horvath



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In 2017, Fyre Festival, perpetrated by entrepreneur and fraudster Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule took social media by storm, becoming a worldwide phenomenon in just weeks. With more than 40 thousand #FyreFestival tags and models such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid contributing to the promotion of the music festival, McFarland created a movement so big that there was no going back. Social media provided a platform so powerful that Fyre Festival was able to be taken to extremes. Originally intended to promote Fyre Media’s Fyre app for booking music talent, the festival soon became a weekend-long music festival on a private island with private jets, cabanas, alcohol, food, and so much more. Once they arrived, the 5,000+ festivalgoers that purchased tickets quickly took to social media to express their extreme disappointment. Coming full circle, social media provided a powerful platform to generate a movement from #FyreFestival to #FyreFraud. In this case study centered on the promotion of the Fyre Festival, the researcher explores the concept of social media influencers through the ethical lens of equity and truth telling.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Chad E. Painter

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Social media influencers: The case of the Fyre Festival