Biggest Influencer Scandals

A social media influencer's existence is typically portrayed as one of luxury and carefree living, driven by unending free vacations and #sponsored posts. However, the conduct of some influencers can put them on the wrong side of public opinion, and in some circumstances, the law.

In the chase of fame, some online celebrities can become embroiled in massive scandals, prompted by anything from insensitive postings to 'revealed' bad behavior and, on rare occasions, legal threats—leaving their massive followings in limbo.

With a new generation of celebrities receiving their big break on social media (on channels that didn't even exist ten years ago), there's clearly more potential for blunders—and far less forgiveness for errors.

Scroll down to see every significant influencer controversy that occurred in the 2010s, from the infamous 'Operation Varsity Blues' college admissions scam (which is still ongoing, FYI) to the iconic 'Fyre Festival' catastrophe.

Natalie Schlater

On a vacation to Bali in June 2019, Schlater, a Swedish Instagram blogger, was accused of ignorance. "Thinking about how different my life is from the man picking in the rice field every morning," Schlater captioned a bikini shot of herself looking over a rice field.

Schlater later apologised for her tweet, telling Bored Panda, "I absolutely see that my caption can be misinterpreted due to the social context we live in today, and if I could go back in time, I would have just stated it differently."

Marissa Carey Grossman and Gabriel Grossman (AKA @fashionambitionist)

Gabriel Grossman, a banker, shocked his girifriend Marissa Carey with a three-day international proposal that culminated in a French wedding, all of which was broadcast live on Instagram in June 2019.

What is the issue? When The Atlantic revealed a 'pitch deck' that the couple purportedly used to solicit sponsors for their wedding, viewers realised the entire ceremony appeared to be an elaborate marketing scam.

Following a slew of #spon posts from the pair during the engagement process, many got suspicious, figuring the wedding wasn't a surprise and Marissa knew about it ahead of time.

While neither party has issued an official statement, their family friend Elicia Blaine Evans, a social media specialist who assisted with the proposal, has stated that Marissa was completely unaware of the proposal before to it.

Olivia Jade Giannulli

After her mother, Full House actress Lori Loughlin, was accused of paying illegal payments to earn her two daughters prominent slots at the University of Southern California, 19-year-old YouTube star Giannulli became ensnared in a college admissions scandal.

According to Us Weekly, Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli (Olivia Jade's father) have been entangled in a lengthy court struggle dubbed 'Operation Varsity Blues.' They are currently facing up to 40 years in jail.

Olivia Jade has now lost high-profile endorsement relationships (such as Amazon and Boohoo), and she was dormant on YouTube until November 2019, when she made a brief explanation video titled 'hello again.'


Tana Mongeau, a YouTube personality, announced TanaCon as an alternative to YouTube's famed VidCon event in 2018. Mongeau promised an exclusive encounter to her 3+ million subscribers, and thousands of admirers travelled from all over the world to attend the event in Anaheim, California, on June 22, 2018.

The event's organisers quickly realised, however, that the event had been significantly overbooked. The concert was thrown into disarray, and Mongeau's (mainly adolescent) followers were left outside in the sun, severely burned.

In what has been dubbed the "Fyre Festival" of YouTube events, fans who had paid up to US$2,000 for the event were told it was cancelled on the day, and refunds took over a month to arrive.

"There were so many emotions, so many people involved, so many intentions, and so many things that it truly is like a gigantic thing to unroll," Mongeau told Paper Magazine in June 2019. "I guess that's why it took me like a year to unravel it all and pick it apart."

Caroline Calloway

In September 2019, writer Natalie Beach remembered her experience as a ghostwriter for American Instagram blogger Caroline Calloway in an essay for The Cut. Beach disclosed personal details about their tumultuous friendship, alleging that Calloway mistreated her repeatedly throughout their time together on the job.

The post got a mixed response once it went viral online—many people praised Beach's candour, while others agreed with Calloway.

Few, however, were more outspoken about the piece than Calloway herself, who published many articles apologising to Beach and blaming her maltreatment of her on an Adderall addiction.

"Natalie endured all the repercussions of being loved by an addict and none of the benefits of being loved by the woman that recovery changed me into," Calloway said in an Instagram post from September 2019, encouraging her followers to read and support the essay.