NEW YORK — This week, New York City renter Samantha Hartsoe took her TikTok followers along for the ride when she decided to investigate the mysterious draft coming from behind her medicine cabinet.
The 26-year-old was beside herself upon discovering a secret room behind the wall of her Roosevelt Island apartment. Dragging out her investigation in four different videos (watch part one here) she recruited the help of friends to help document her journey to the other side.
Turns out it was another apartment under renovation. Even electricians started leaving comments on the TikToker’s post, insisting there was nothing unusual about it, but the creepy angle of it all kept viewers mesmerized.
More than nine million viewers, to be exact. It even led to conspiracy theories that evoked a “candyman” type of situation in the apartment.
While it remains unclear if Hartsoe deliberately deceived followers, as she didnt respond to PIX11 News’ request for an interview, it’s all part of a growing culture of lies and exaggerations told for the sake of going viral.
“I think some of the most viral moments from the last year have actually been fabricated on TikTok,” Ben Goggin, senior editor at Insider, told PIX11 News.
Among the biggest was a rumor that Kanye West was dating YouTuber Jeffree Star. Just about every standout moment on the app, in most cases, are staged. Most recently, an actor who used deep fake technology to impersonate Tom Cruise in several videos.
So what fuels this content? Money, of course.
“The creator economy is completely based on clicks and views, so that definitely encourages people to do outrageous things and tell outrageous stories,” Goggin said. “Often times, they are lying to their viewers.”
Food for thought in a complex digital world.