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Why People Don't Believe Anything Influencers Do Anymore

We're starting to see influencers for what they are — brands with something to sell.

Posted on June 24, 2019, at 3:15 p.m. ET

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After just a few months of dating, YouTube stars Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul are apparently engaged.

According to Mongeau's Twitter and Instagram posts, Paul proposed Sunday during Mongeau's 21st birthday celebrations in Las Vegas.

i’m....... engaged..................

Her Instagram story shows a shiny new ring and a proposal cake.

Tana Mongeau/Instagram

Usually a celebrity engagement is greeted with congratulations and ring-gazing.

In this case, a lot of people's first reaction was to assume that this is all completely and utterly fake.

it’s not. i’m engaged. holy fuck. https://t.co/dNIvGfOch1

Based on the Twitter reaction, people genuinely don't know what to believe.

I honest to god cannot tell if anything tana mongeau does is real or fake and now she’s engaged to jake Paul so I’m even more confused about her life

Me thinking that Tana and Jake were a fake couple and then seeing that they got engaged

GODDAMN IF SOMEONE DOESNT TELL ME IF TANA AND JAKE ARE REAL IM GONNA SCREAM! Is the relationship real? Is the engagement real? Am i being punked?

In fact, that's pretty much how the couple's entire relationship has been treated. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the couple's reps for comment on the reactions.

There's particular reason to think these two in particular could be faking it for clout. Paul has said publicly his last relationship with Erika Costell (another influencer, of course) was totally fake.

Mongeau, on the other hand, has been accused of lying and making up stories basically throughout her entire YouTube career.

The distrust also signals a shifting attitude about influencers from the public. Can we really trust that anything influencers do is real?

Ramona Pringle is a professor at Toronto's Ryerson University and director of the school's Transmedia Zone. She said the shift is due to both younger fans growing up and the evolution of the influencer industry as a whole.

Influencers used to get clout by being unique or spontaneous, but now everyone is doing the same thing.

"When that was seen to be a successful model to emulate, it became a template, a business," she said. "So, as fans are growing up and becoming more aware of how media and social media in particular works, the whole influencer economy is becoming more saturated and more desperate to cling to those dwindling fans."

Influencers once got famous for being good at something, like DIY, makeup, or cooking. Now, we now have influencers who are just famous for being famous.

"We’ve got influencers who are just good at being 'influencers,' looking the part and living the life even if there is no substance, and ultimately, little truth to what they’re projecting," said Pringle.

Ultimately, said Pringle, it's a good thing that we're questioning what we see on social media, and seeing influencers for what they are — brands selling a product.

As for Mongeau and Paul — or "Jana," as they're known — the shock factor of a quick engagement works in their favor, whether or not it's real.

"The more authentic, off the cuff, spontaneous, the more trustworthy it seems. And that is the relationship with fans that is so valuable — that’s what translates into contracts with brands," she said.

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