Facts With Fiona's Fake Photo Op Is Just the Latest Incident of Internet "Fauxtesting"

Amber Garrett - Author

Jun. 2 2020, Updated 12:06 p.m. ET

A conservative journalist and wannabe influencer has been shamed into making all her social media profiles private after she was identified as the woman in a viral video pretending to "help" clean up after protestors in Santa Monica. 

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NY Times reporter Taylor Lorenz revealed her to be Fiona Moriarty McLaughlin, a young conservative journalist, who has a column called Facts With Fiona. Here's everything we know about Facts With Fiona's fake photo op. Unfortunately, she's not the only person posing for the 'gram amid the protests.

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After Facts With Fiona's fake photo op went viral, her social media went private, then deactivated.

On June 1, a video of Fiona went viral, as it revealed her posing for a photo with a construction worker who was boarding up stores along Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. The retail area had been heavily damaged by looters the night before, whom it should be noted represented a small minority of otherwise peaceful protestors in the area. 

Fiona then handed a drill back to the worker, thanked him, and got into a Mercedes SUV with her photographer, whom she also identified as her boyfriend with an offhand remark.

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"Boyfriends of Instagram," she laughed, seeming to acknowledge her companion's assist with her fake photo op. She then threw out a flippant "BLM!" before leaving the scene. A video originally shared by Twitter user @ewufortheloss was reshared by film director Ava Duvernay and others. It has since been viewed over 13 million times at the time of this writing.

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After the When They See Us director shared the video, internet sleuths got to work uncovering the identity of the woman, who turns out to be Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin, a commentary intern for DC Examiner. The attention led her to quickly set all social media accounts for @factswithfiona to private before eventually deleting or deactivating her accounts.

It's not the first time this week Fiona's "coverage" of the protests in Los Angeles has gotten media attention. Before this incident, she grabbed some headlines after tweeting comments critical of protestors who spray-painted a billboard for OUAI hair products with "Black Lives Matter." In response, OUAI creator and hairstylist to the stars Jen Atkin proclaimed her support for the vandalized billboard, saying, "made our sign even better."

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She echoed that support on Instagram sharing a photo of the billboard after it was tagged and a video of the activist who painted over it, saying, "I would have climbed up there myself."

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While it's not clear whether Fiona intended to use her photo for a news story or just Instagram clout, she has received a ton of flak for posing as someone actively helping clean-up the Promenade. And the fact that the worker she posed with appeared to be a person of color, specifically a Latino man, did not escape many people's notice. 

However, Fiona is far from the only person documenting themselves in front of smashed storefronts and otherwise performing Instagram "activism." 

Whether pretending to protest alongside antiracist demonstrators or reacting to the property destruction like Fiona, videos of people pretending to care about the protests against police brutality against Black civilians are unfortunately a growing trend.

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Whether actual influencers or just regular people posing for social media photos, people are getting captured left and right taking their pics alongside demonstrators and then leaving the area, making it fairly apparent they're not really participating in the protests or clean-up efforts.

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Some are even telling on themselves, like these two young women, one of whom posted to her Instagram Story to "close friends" only that they should go check out the protest like it's a pickup basketball match and wanted to make sure they had the perfect "riot outfit" picked out.

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Don't be like these people. Don't be a fauxtestor. Just stay home.

 If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.

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