Responsible creators show how easy it is to deceive

Content creators can reach millions of people, so authenticity is a genuine responsibility. But it’s also easy to mislead, as four creators found out.
A man in an orange cap sits in front of a greenscreen with his bare back facing a photographer. He points his left index finger to the sky.
Cathrine Stenemyr_headshot.

Written by Cathrine Stenemyr

Channel Business Developer – Nordic Customer & Trade Marketing

When you’re on social media, who do you trust? After all, we know that everyone gives their photos a little tweak, or artfully edits out the kid’s toys and laundry slung over chair backs. And that’s totally okay. We know that everyone is just trying to be their best selves in a busy world. It’s the online equivalent of the ‘little white lie’ that hurts no one, right? But how far is too far? And what do we expect of social influencers, whose lives are their living?

It's actually a position of some responsibility when you start to think about it. After all, these are people who can have huge platforms from which to start (and take part in) conversations of consequence – whether that’s guiding followers on how to spend their money, sharing information or even just their opinions. Posts can even be the place where their followers see news first. A recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that TikTok reaches “40% of 18–24s, with 15% using the platform for news”. And while there are plenty of legitimate news organisations sharing content there, they absolutely are not the only ones. So, it’s often impossible to know whether what we see is a fact, opinion, propaganda or simply just clumsily researched. 

It’s easy to fall into a spiral of giving people what you think they want, and the social media echo chamber can be loud. With this in mind, Canon Nordics set out to ‘influence the influencers’, encouraging them to take a closer look at what they share and to question whether they were simply hunting for likes or seeking deals and ‘gifts’. They recruited four talented independent content creators, with over a million followers between them, for a mission of thought-provoking trickery. This ‘Create Responsibly Crew’ would show how easy it is to deceive their followers (in the nicest possible way, of course!) and hopefully encourage others to think about the way they present themselves online.


The Create Responsibly Crew took their followers on fake trips all over the world before revealing that they’d been in the studio all along.

A man in a black top with the hood up, holds a Canon camera up as though taking a photograph. Behind him is a street scene with Japanese road signs.

Kenneth Nguyen fooled his followers, that he was in Japan using old footage and even just standing in front of a printed street scene.

Mission #1: take your followers on a ‘fake-cation’

From arctic exploration to ramen in Tokyo, luxury pools and Australian sunshine, the Create Responsibly Crew temporarily duped their followers into believing they were on spectacular adventures. Kenneth Nguyen from Denmark used a combination of old footage, clever cropping and a printed back drop to convince his 61,000+ followers that he was on an assignment for Canon in Tokyo. Ása Steinars of Iceland set up a tent and had fake snow blown in her face with a hairdryer. Norway’s Maja Moan conjured up a trip to Australia in her studio and Joonas Linkola from Finland simply green screened in his luxury pool from the comfort of his home. They all had one thing in common: the techniques they used are available to anyone. Which means that if the Create Responsibly Crew could easily conjure themselves up in places thousands of miles from home, then anyone can.

A square photo of a women watching giraffes out of a window is overlaid perfectly onto another picture, which completes the body of the woman. She is carrying a ladder and the background is plain white.

Maja Moan’s ‘trip to Australia’ saw her recreating standing in a waterfall, taste testing Vegemite, a trip to a safari park and plenty of snaps in the sunshine.

“Throughout this experiment, I discovered just how easily things can be manipulated in this fast-paced digital world,” said Ása Steinars, admitting the ruse to her followers on Instagram. “It’s crazy how technology keeps developing especially with AI on the rise, making it harder to distinguish between reality and fiction.” She makes an excellent point and one that was echoed by the followers of all creators when they realised how they had been misled. “I can't believe it, still, even though you told us it was fake,” exclaimed one follower. “I CAN'T believe it is and that scares me a bit! Thank you, for telling AND showing what is possible”.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether reality is what your followers expect. If they are promised absolute authenticity and this is not being delivered, then the ‘unfollow’ button is within easy reach. But, of course, you must know or suspect that you’re being deceived. So, a responsible attitude to content creation overall is key. Without it, the wider implication is that people will be less likely to believe what they see in the future, and this extends far further than the world of influencers and content creators. Erosion of trust is very real and has already resulted in a dangerous lack of confidence in media, institutions, and democratic processes. While the creator economy might feel like a very small player in this, it’s the everyday ease with which audiences can be fooled that can turn trust into dust. As Joonas said to his followers: “Fake it till you make it, but if you fake it, be honest about it!”

Keep your eyes peeled for further missions from Canon Nordic’s Create Responsibly Crew on their website.

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