‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture’, Yay or Nay?

I’m sure by now you’ve seen thousands of pages share Instagram’s new feature, ‘Add Yours’ with accounts jumping to the nearest opportunity to share their pet to a collection of furry friends with the promise to plant 1 tree per pet photo.

Currently the viral hit has 3.1 million images, but some a sceptical of it’s founding, authenticity or if it’s just one big joke! As of this week, millions of furry friend lovers have rushed to add their pet to the growing Instagram feature. Everyone from A.B. Original rapper Briggs, to Jojo Rabbit star Thomasin Mckenzie.

But is it a scam? Let’s review the facts before we go posting to this new viral trend.

Internet Star Mr Beast and Youtuber Mark Rober in 2019 launched a climate action plan called ‘Team Trees’, a campaign that promised that for $1, a tree will be planted. With the growing results of this campaign, with a crazy number of 23,400,162 trees currently planted for climate change action the Youtuber’s out of the square call to action exploded. Millennials and Gen Z are constantly looking for ways to help on action with climate, and when it comes to creating new forests and large carbon storing ecosystems, Instagram pages that promise tree planting is one way to draw in a crowd.

Due to Instagram’s ‘Add Yours’ feature currently being anonymous with the creator of the campaigns not being visible to users, Detective Twitter has chimed in to try and discover who made this promise, or if it’s just another sham.

Currently trending on Twitter, users have chimed in to state,

No one verifying who exactly is apparently planting the trees and no link to their page.

Rossalyn Warren

So here are the facts, plain and simple.

Regardless of whether or not it is a scam, any opportunity to share your pet online is something users will take up.

We’ve all seen it. Aunties and Mums alike sharing every photo of their dog on Facebook as much as possible. So when a space to share your furry friends is open… 3.1m people will flock to it.

There is no way to prove who created this post, even if it was a reputable organisation.

Instagram’s current features won’t allow users to see who created this. So if it was an authentic account, we’ll never know until someone stands up.

Data scams look exactly like this

There is currently talk on Twitter that this 3.1 million account wide story sharing is prime opportunity for a data or marketing company to gather a large enough audience to sell pet products to. The larger the pool of people, based from location has given a public catalogue to an agency to advertise too.

Green washing on Instagram for clout is incredibly common.

In the desperate times of the NSW fires, Instagram was taken by storm of a similar campaign that promised for every story share, a dollar would be donated to the appeals. The viral Instagram posts, which have applied to plastic waste in the ocean or even trees again come from accounts with zero authenticity, and most of the time are actually sold for profit to wannabe Influencers who want to start with a follower base.

[ Image Description: Young boy looks at computer screen surrounded by fake $1 campaigns to donate to the Australian bush fires ] Source: The News Daily

Due to the nature of the feature being public, online predators could have access to a catalogue of youth.

This is an unlikely possibility, but with a large assortment of profile pictures and account names free to access, the opportunity for someone with ill intentions is right there.

Lastly, if an agency has the means to plant 3.1 million trees or donate so much money why do they need Instagram engagement to do so?

Just a thought.

After all, this could be a case of mass hysteria, but until then stay safe and don’t publish any details online you wouldn’t want a big company or a stranger seeing.

Let’s not use this as a distraction from the embarrassment at the COP26.

If you want to donate or contribute to authentic campaigns for climate justice:

$1 1 tree www.teamtrees.org

Protect the Great Barrier Reef www.getup.org.au

Divest your Super with an Industry Super Fund committed to action www.hesta.com.au

Invest in an Australian Bank with low carbon emissions, visit Market Force

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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