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How The Plant A Tree Sticker IS Another Social Media Tactic

If your Instagram account was overrun by pictures of other people’s pets last week, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. 

An Instagram sticker reading: “we’ll plant one tree for every pet picture” appeared on the internet on Monday 8th November. The anonymous post sparked, yet another, viral online trend.

By the following day, over 4 million people had posted pictures of their beloved pets and if we are going by what the sticker says, seemingly planted a tree! 

But take another look at that sticker. Do you know who posted it? Is it attached to a reputable organisation? Are there any promises of these trees actually being planted? Because when you really think about it, 4 million trees is a lot of gardening. 

This sticker was originally posted on November 2nd by Plant a Tree Co. But it was deleted ten minutes later after the company realised that the post would “grow too big” and they didn’t have the resources to plant that many trees. “We posted the new “Add Yours” story as a fun tree planting campaign where we can show off our awesome pets on Nov. 2nd! Even though we deleted it, a week later out of nowhere the stories continued to spread out of our control, reaching millions of reposts.” 

After deleting the sticker, the company’s credit was taken away from the post, even after the post continued to circulate around the internet a week later. This glitch, which caused millions of users to share the now anonymous post, 6 days after its original publication, was linked to an ‘Instagram bug’.

This begs the question; was this bug actually a technological error? 

According to Instagram’s guidelines, when you create an account on the social media platform you’re providing Instagram with a global non-exclusive license to host your content. This means they are fully capable of reposting a sticker after it has been deleted and they do not have to credit the original creator.

Nevertheless, Plant a Tree Co. has decided to use the attention that they have received from the viral post to actually make a positive impact on the environment. “We want to use this awareness for lasting impact, so we created this fundraiser.”

While the small business cannot plant the trees themselves, they have created a fundraiser to fund the planting of these multi-million trees. All of the money raised by this campaign will go to ‘Trees for the Future’, a non-profit environmental organisation. Unfortunately, according to Plant a Tree Co.’s Instagram page, less than 4000 people have donated to the “Repost to Plant Trees” fundraiser, which is a fraction of the original shares this campaign received. 

With the fundraiser ending on the 8th of December, it seems like people are more interested in terriers than trees. 

Journalism Student at DCU
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