Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Celebrities post old chain letter hoax en masse, proving they're as bad at the internet as your parents

Photo: Top Left: Tommaso Boddi; Bottom Left: Allen Berezovsky; Right: Thierry Monasse (Getty Images)

All of us ordinary people living in our hovels, collecting dirt into our hands, and spitting on it to sculpt model houses of the kind we’ll never be able to afford, often feel as if we’re impossibly far beneath the rich and powerful celebrities who dominate our culture. Fortunately, sometimes things happen to remind us that, regardless of their vast wealth and social advantages, the most famous among us are actually just regular people—or, in the case of a chain letter prank going around Instragram right now, more gullible than the majority of us.

Reporter Taylor Lorenz has made a thread documenting this phenomenon as it spreads throughout the celebrity ranks. In the first screenshot, we see the template used in each of the famous people’s Instagram posts: A transparently bullshit message that’s supposed to allow individuals to opt out of a new privacy policy that allows Instagram to “use your photos.” The same dumb message has been circulating on Facebook since 2012, and, hilariously, this version looks like someone just pasted “Instagram” over the word “Facebook” in the original message. Christ.  


“It can be used in court cases in litigation against you,” the message warns. “Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed [sic].”

The list of celebrities with a mid-’90s level of internet savvy currently includes everyone from Julia Roberts, Tom Holland, Julianne Moore, Retta, Rob Lowe, Rita Wilson, and Judd Apatow to Waka Flocka Flame, Usher, Gal Gadot, and Vice founder Shane Smith.


A couple, like Trevor Noah and John Mayer, have made fun of the trend, but, they’re in the minority when compared to the many others who don’t seem to have noticed how fake the whole thing is. In case you wondered how the life-threatening non-science of anti-vaccination dipshits spread from fringe celebrities to a global health issue, well, this seems like a good, decidedly less frightening case in point.


It’s all enough to make us, dirt-streaked, tatter-clothed plebeians that we are, feel better than the rich and famous. This time, at least, nobody’s being hurt by their inability to read things fully and no adverse consequences will come from this. Or, at least, that’s something we can tell ourselves until we see that the current stewards of world peace are stupid enough to fall for the prank, too.


Well, shit.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.