By Bianca Hackman.

The question on everyone’s lips, who created the viral ‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture 🐶’ prompt?

Instagram recently added a new feature called ‘Add Yours’, which allows users to share a photo as a story and prompt others to do the same. Followers can click on the prompt, share their own picture and you can see how the cycle continues…

If you were on Instagram yesterday, you would have noticed a prompt in the early stages of going viral: ‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture 🐶’. This ‘Add Yours’ feature had approximately thirty-thousand re-shares Monday morning. Fast-forward 24 hours later, there are now well over four million re-shares and counting.

As much as I have enjoyed seeing everyone’s cute pets on my feed, I did some research and all other ‘Add Yours’ prompts include a ‘started by’ link which highlights the owner of the initial prompt. As this viral prompt doesn’t have a ‘started by’ link, it begs the questions:

  1. Who started this prompt and why?
  2. How do we hold the creator accountable for planting the trees?

I am struggling to see the benefits this Instagram account would reap for creating this viral content and without knowing the who, we can’t ensure the ‘promise’ is delivered. Some suggest Instagram is the only account that holds the ‘power’ to create this sticker without the ‘started by’ link, but wouldn’t they want their name attached to a viral trend? So many questions, such little answers.

The digital landscape is one that is constantly fascinating to me. We have the power to do good and initiate viral content in the process. However, with digital platforms comes the ability to hide behind a screen. How do we ensure content is for the better good? It goes without saying that engagement and followers are always a part of the (normal) equation when it comes to trending content, but without accountability, it is a shallow promise and an opportunity to capitalise on a topical movement without follow through.

The long and the short of this is, I want to know who initiated the trend. I want what can be an unpredictable platform to enforce accountability on account holders, I want transparency and I want trees. I also want more pet pics.

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