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Kim Kardashian is called the “queen” of social media; she practically invented the influencer life and now millions of young adults – and some of their parents – have forgone the practical route of patience and diligence, and now strive to emulate her rise to fame via social media.

Many have credited her ability to turn 15-minutes of fame into a media empire, through her use of applying marketing strategies in a social environment. However for a new generation that has been influenced by her success, is this need to be “insta-famous” a business marketing ploy? Or is being famous – by any means – the only goal? Is there a difference between an “influencer” and someone who is just socially popular?

Fake Famous, an innovative social experiment from veteran technology journalist Nick Bilton, will journey into the world of social media influencers. The film, premiering tonight at 9p.m on HBO Max, will journey into this world is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers. By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to “engage” with their social media, the newly made “influencers” discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle.

Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous illuminates our obsession with the numbers of likes, followers and favorites we get, and how most of our online world is much more fabricated than we realize.

Bilton will explore a fundamental question: What is fame and influence in the digital age?

There are now hundreds of millions of people on social platforms who have such large followings that they are considered to be a new kind of celebrity. But are they really famous?

Bilton and his team set out to explore what it all really means by launching an experiment that begins with an open casting call in Los Angeles, with the goal of transforming three people into famous influencers.

The young trio he selects – aspiring actress Dominique, fashion designer Chris and real estate assistant Wylie – proceed to have wildly different experiences as their fake followers grow by the thousands each day. Each of their stories illuminates the ephemeral world of online influence and the realities of a lifestyle based largely on fantasy.

So, are you really famous or just fake?