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Architecture student shows how social media virality can be manipulated easily

/ 05:54 PM October 27, 2018
Sarah Abouelkhair

Image: Instagram/@sarahabulkhair

An Instagram user pulled off a daring social experiment and ended up teaching internet users a lesson on social media virality.

Instagram user Sarah Abouelkhair, an architecture student in Egypt, made people believe NASA thought her concept of doing a barbecue under a rocket launch was a great idea. She even threw in big names like SpaceX, Buzzfeed, Gordon Ramsey, Ellen Degeneres, Outback and Netflix to make the claim believable through a series of Instagram direct message screengrabs uploaded on her Instagram Stories.


Most have already expired as of this writing, but Facebook user Alaa Tarawneh got screengrabs of the initial posts.

Image: Facebook/Alaa Tarawneh

Abouelkhair revealed in a later post that NASA or SpaceX never actually invited her to have a barbecue with them. Rather, she gave NASA and all the mentioned companies a heads up that she was conducting a social experiment that would entail repeatedly tagging them in social media posts.


Sarah Abouelkhair

Image: Instagram/@sarahabulkhair

She wrote, “Hello! You’ve been getting tags from me on my story as part of a social experiment I’m conducting on the futility of social media and how people with no real content and maybe even a fake content can easily get fame. If you have any questions please tell me and find the full story on my highlights.”

Abouelkhair also said she also got offers from companies possibly hoping to ride the wave of sudden fame that she created, and get some marketing mileage from it.

Sarah Abouelkhair

Image: Instagram/@sarahabulkhair

To top it all off, she posted a supposed message from President Donald Trump congratulating her on showing the world how fake news could spread rapidly on social media.

donald trump

Image: Instagram/@sarahabulkhair

After the big reveal Abouelkhair’s inbox was still getting messages, but this time from people who came to admire what she did. One claimed to be a mass communication student and said Abouelkhair’s little experiment helped understand the effects of social media.  /ra

Image: Instagram/@sarahabulkhair


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TAGS: NASA, Sarah Abouelkhair, SpaceX
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