‘Where’s the Scam?’ – Inside the Viral ‘Plant a Tree’ Instagram Trend

 ‘Where’s the Scam?’ – Inside the Viral ‘Plant a Tree’ Instagram Trend

Like me, you probably saw a mysterious sticker in your friend’s Instagram Stories last week that said “we’ll plant one tree for every pet picture” on top of a picture of their adorable dog. Unlike me, you are probably not an unemployed freelance journalist on the autism spectrum with too much time on your hands, a sick dog, and a compulsive habit of reaction “but how tho” to everything. 

What followed was my 24-hour deep dive into a seemingly innocuous social media trend. What it revealed was a Gen Z long con: a scheme to sell dropshipped 20 cent necklaces, a “Airbnb of parking” app and a classic data grab. Behind it is Zack Saadioui, a 23-year-old computer tech grad in Florida. 

After its sticker was shared around an estimated four million times, Plant A Tree Co – a company founded by Saadioui in 2019 – held their hands up and said they were responsible for the trend. On their Instagram account, they said that…

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