Migrant’s Journey Captured On Instagram Revealed As A Hoax

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
An Instagram account supposedly documenting a Senegalese migrant’s journey to Spain has been exposed as an online hoax that was actually promoting a photography festival..

An Instagram account supposedly documenting a Senegalese migrant’s journey to Spain has been exposed as an online hoax that was actually promoting a photography festival.

The Instagram account launched a week ago even stumped the media, immediately going viral after Huffington Post wrote about “Abdou Diouf’s” quest for a better life in Europe, gaining an impressive 10,000 followers.

But the account’s elaborate scam was revealed once users began to question Diouf’s hashtags which, while popular and mocked Instagram culture, seemed rather irrelevant to the image.

Spanish newspaper El País outed filmmaker Tomás Peña as the brains behind the creation of the online persona, Diouf, as part of a press campaign for GetXoPhoto film festival.

Peñacreated a short film out of the Instagram snaps, and while his goal was promoting an international festival, the producer also wanted to highlight the ridiculousness of Western media’s reliance on viral eligibility and narcissism as validation for good photography in today’s society.  

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Peña said the project’s objective was to highlight the “western and decontextualized attitude,” where hashtags clash “with the image we see…denouncing the western frivolity [and] the fact that something hasn’t been lived if it hasn’t been shared.”

GetXoPhoto released a press statement after the trick elaborating more on the reasoning behind the deceit. 

“…Instagram account that acts as a reflection on the way we process and share images of displacement and migration, in established media and on social networks

The piece is also a comment on how the use and importance of photography has changed radically in the last few years, with the image of travel inexorably linked to it’s ‘reality’. In this way photography is key to the social construct of ‘travel’ in a globalized society.

If this is true for industrial tourism - the endless search and sharing of 21st century takes on pastoral ideals - it applies equally to the increasing numbers of those who’s journeys are the result of necessity. Migrants and refugees, displaced by dictatorial regimes, the horrors of war and environmental and economic disasters.”

In 2015, the selfie rages on documenting our every moment of our lives but fails to purely capture the truth behind the photo — instead comprising for an idealized and self-involved image of our society. The campaign works as an artistic critique of our disconnect to the real heart of the issues, instead using the selfie as a way to distract, distance and subsequently numb ourselves from reality. 

Read more: Is This Selfie Stick Fight Between Two Tourists For Real?