Kendall Jenner's Fyre Fest Instagram May Have Actually Changed Influencer Culture

Photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage/Getty Images.
We’re partying like it’s April 2017 again, thanks to Hulu and Netflix’s dueling Fyre Festival documentaries — Fyre Fraud and FYRE: The Greatest Party that Never Happened — both which are now streaming on their respective services. As Netflix’s title perfectly captures, the Fyre Festival was supposed to be a giant party in the Bahamas, attended by the rich and famous with performances from some of the hottest musical acts today. Instead, it turned into a hot mess. For those intrigued (and for those who have forgotten April 2017), the story actually gets even messier, as a Jenner is tied to the Fyre Festival fiasco, all thanks to one Instagram post. But what actually happened to Kendall Jenner after Fyre Festival?
As both docs explain, the Fyre Festival, spearheaded by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule (you read that right!), was doomed from the very beginning, as there was never enough time, or money, to pull off the event. However, that didn’t stop McFarland from promoting the hell out the festival anyway, and also defrauding investors along the way. McFarland is currently service a six-year prison sentence for those crimes.
Jenner fits into this insane story, because prior to the festival on January 5, 2017, she posted an Instagram announcing that some members of the G.O.O.D Music family would be performing, and her followers could buy tickets using a discount code she provided. Seems harmless enough, right? However the post, which has since been deleted, was an ad, but Jenner did not tag it as an #ad. Legally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires you to disclose when something is an ad for the sake of transparency. According to a report on Vice, Jenner was paid $250 thousand for the post. If you’re being paid to say something to your 102 million followers, the least you can do is tell us that.
On top of that, as Hulu’s documentary points out, Jenner’s post also seemed to allude that her brother-in-law, Kanye West, would be performing at Fyre with his G.O.O.D Music label — though she never came outright and said it, her post certainly didn’t deny it. That, coupled with the discount code she was offering, obviously led to an increase of purchased tickets.
It’s no surprise that shortly after the Fyre Festival fell apart, multiple lawsuits were filed against McFarland — and also the social media influencers who helped promote the festival, including Jenner. One lawsuit filed by three people who attended the festival blamed the organizers and also 100 “Jane Does” — 100 unnamed influencers who promoted and posted about the festival. According to NPR, this suit states that the organizers and influencers acted “with negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract for failing to ‘provide the festival experience as promised’ and for ‘misrepresentations’ that caused people to purchase tickets.’”
All of this went down in April 2017. That’s already over a year and a half ago. Since then, what’s happened to Jenner, and the rest of the influencers?
As far as the public knows, Jenner has received no formal, or informal, punishment for not disclosing she was posting an ad, profiting from it, and misleading her followers. The lawsuit where she was indirectly named has still not been settled, and there’s no word on if the FTC issued her any sort of written warning, let alone a fine. She’s also never even publicly acknowledged that she was associated with Fyre Festival (Bella Hadid, who was also paid and promoted it, at least apologized to her followers… in a post that’s since been deleted).
While nothing might have directly happened to Jenner since the Fyre Festival, influencers and how they convey transparency has definitely changed. In the fall of 2017, Instagram started rolling out a new partnership feature, which let users immediately see that influencers were working with another brand/company, even if they didn’t outright mention it was an #ad. Had this feature been around when Jenner first posted, her name wouldn’t be all over the media again with this sudden resurgence of interest in the Fyre Festival — and it maybe would have saved a few people an ill fated trip to the Bahamas.

More from TV

R29 Original Series