As the deadly California wildfires raged, Jeremy Kost looked for the right image for his Instagram account.
He settled on a shot of a man standing on a Malibu beach, in the nude, pensively looking at the ground as he leans on a large stick. Kost geotagged it for Malibu and shared it with his 87,000 followers with the caption, “#CurrentMood seeing all the unreal destruction in Malibu from the fire… it has always played such a central role in my work. I’m SO sad for those affected and for the world so be losing such majesty.”
Kost, an artist who posts drag and nude photos, is one of many Instagram influencers and businesses who’ve been sharing Instagram posts using the location, hashtag, or keywords associated with the fires for personal or promotional content. The result is that anyone searching for hashtags related to the fires will encounter meditation shots, sales pitches, nudes, and a bevy of attractive photos of influencers alongside posts showing the depth of the devastation.
“Thinking of everyone in California stay safe. 20% of the proceeds of #caliyork will go to Red Cross for California #coasttocoastlove," read a post by a user with just short of half a million followers. The photo also used the hashtags #californiafires #lovecalifornia#californialove."
"Summer Loving in a linen cantaloupe Gingham @miguelinagambaccini ensemble captured by lovely @ellian.raffoul," said another post from an actor. "Sad to hear about the fires in Malibu and praying for safety and strength for the firefighters battling it out there. We never know what life brings us and every happy moment is a blessing in itself."
Tweets from a Funny or Die show about influencers called Like and Subscribe also pointed out that many people on Instagram posted images of themselves under the guise of supporting people affected by the California fires.