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How an agent hijacked Coachella’s social media feed to access 100k people

Nearly 100,000 people take part in the pilgrimage to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each year. The event takes place across two weekends in the L.A area and features big name musical performances, ubiquitous floppy hats, and social media saturation. This past weekend, many of those social media posts accidentally promoted one local real estate agent.

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Hacking social media

Thousands of festival goers posted pictures and statuses on Facebook and Instagram only to find that they had unwillingly tagged the local business man.

The location tag called “Coachella – Weekend 1” later automatically changed to show their location as “Rami Atherton”.

How did he do it?

When clicked, the geo-tag leads to a Facebook page for Nourmand & Associates, where Rami specializes in luxury real estate in Beverly Hills, the Sunset Strip, and Malibu.

How does one hack a location tag? It’s pretty simple. A mischievous business person could set up a Facebook place under one name and then, hypothetically, edit it after thousands of people check in.

The backlash

It’s somewhat more difficult to remove a location from previous posts, something many angry festival goers have pointed out.

Buzz Chatman, a television producer who’s Facebook posts are now riddled with Atherton’s name, had this to say to Billboard: “That is some sneaky s—“.

“Not a publicity stunt”

Atherton talked to The Hollywood Reporter , and claimed the location tag was “absolutely not” a publicity stunt, but some of the agitated posters pointed out there was another misleading location tag set up for the second festival weekend.

Both location pages have been removed following the press coverage.

#MarketingStunt

Felix is a writer, online-dating consultant, professor, and BBQ enthusiast. She lives in Austin with two warrior-princess-ninja-superheros and some other wild animals. You can read more of her musings, emo poetry, and weird fiction on her website.

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