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‘Influencers are being taken advantage of’: the social media stars turning to unions

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October 10, 2020 at 12:00PM

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The influencer industry is worth billions – but Instagram and YouTube content creators are often exploited. What happens when a personal brand joins a union?

Amy Hart earned her 1.2 million Instagram and 99,000 Twitter followers by appearing on 2019’s Love Island, where she had her heart broken while wearing a denim minidress. Like many of the show’s former stars, she is now an influencer: she tells fans where to buy clothes, makeup, even teeth like hers. But on 12 May this year, Hart influenced her followers in an entirely different direction. “Join a union!” the 28-year-old wrote on Twitter, above a 14-second video. “We’re in a really uncertain time when it comes to work and your rights and legislation,” she said. “If I can give you one piece of advice: join a union. They were my absolute saving grace when I was employed by a big company.”

The video went viral, with more than 2,000 retweets and 10,000 likes. A former British Airways flight attendant, Hart says she was motivated by BA’s recent announcement of mass redundancies. Her video struck a chord with young people, who created supportive Karl Marx memes. “People were calling me a socialist icon,” Hart laughs. (She now uses the phrase as her nickname on WhatsApp.)

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