An Instagram star has delivered a powerful lesson on not believing everything you see on social media.
American influencer Natalia Taylor has revealed she fooled her fans into thinking she was on holiday in Bali when, in fact, she never travelled to Indonesia — and all her holiday photos were taken at her local Ikea store, news.com.au reports.
Taylor, who has more than 310,000 followers on Instagram, posted a series of glamorous shots from what appeared to be a lavish hotel room, tagged as being in Bali, Indonesia.
"The queen has arrived #bali," was the caption of the first set of images of Taylor, glammed up in a hot pink dress.
Subsequent posts showed her posing with a wine glass and bottle, lounging on outdoor furniture and sitting in a bathtub with a bathroom robe and heels on.
In the comments, followers praised the stunning shots, shared their experiences travelling in Bali and suggested destinations Taylor should visit next.
Later, on her YouTube channel, Taylor dropped a bombshell – she hadn't been to Bali at all, and all the photos were taken in the display rooms in the showcase floor of her local Ikea.
She explained in a video she wanted to prank her Instagram followers "to see if they'll believe I'm actually on this influencer vacation".
"It's been said life on the internet isn't always what it seems, especially in today's day and age when it's so easy to pretend to be anyone you want to be," Taylor said.
"So many influencers nowadays have actually been caught in the act of pretending to be at a particular destination when they really weren't and it's either Photoshop or it's not even them."
Taylor then explained the ruse, saying she took photos in the Ikea showroom as she'd always been impressed by how well decorated the room displays were.
"I got dressed up (with) hair, makeup, wardrobe, everything, and called over my trusted photographer … we're going to go in Ikea together and see how many pictures we can take in the little furniture displays either before we get kicked out or before things get a little too awkward for our own good," she said.
She temporarily removed or hid the famous white Ikea price tags but kept a few in the shots as clues for people paying attention.
To make the fake trip more believable, Taylor posted content on her Instagram story to make it appear she was actually there, including photos of her "getting ready" for the flight, looking out the window of the plane and arriving at Bali's Denpasar Airport – using fake footage from the internet.
"No one is questioning it at all. Everyone believes I'm in Bali right now," she said.
"It seems painfully obvious that I'm not in Bali. I'm not even posting any of the iconic Bali photos of me on the beach or in exotic locations and I'm getting away with it. That's insane."
Fans revealed they'd been duped in the comments section of the video that explained the whole thing.
"OH MY GOD I THOUGHT YOU WERE ACTUALLY THERE!!!!" someone wrote.
Others said they suspected something was amiss with the photos.
"It didn't make any sense that you were posting so many indoor pictures being in such a dreamy place," someone else said.
Taylor said she felt bad fooling her trusted followers, but the fake holiday challenge had an important point.
"Don't trust everything you see on the internet," she said.
"Sometimes people want to lie about who they are as a person. And it's not hard to do, apparently."