A viral Instagram trend has promised to plant a tree with stickers for every pet photo shared to Instagram Stories.
The new sticker feature allows users to understand trends and link their stories to a wider range of events.
A popular sticker trend says: "We will plant a tree for every pet photo."
More than 4.2 million stories were shared using this sticker, which means that a huge forest will be planted somewhere.
But is this really great?
Initially, it was not clear where the trend started, or who exactly "we" were in this case.
The stickers do not link back to the initiator of the trend or official events.
Since it is impossible to verify the person or account behind the trend, it is not clear whether any trees will be planted.
The account @plantatreeco claims to own the event.
In a post on its feed, it said that they only posted 10 minutes before deleting the story.
"We immediately understood the potential of this article, and believed that we did not have the resources to keep our post closed," it said.
"Instagram also deprived us of the credit for posting the post, hiding the originator of the post from the millions of people who participated.
"Although we do not have the ability to plant 4 million trees, we can use this awareness to have a lasting impact, which is why we initiated this fundraising event."
A post shared by Plant A Tree Co. (@plantatreeco)
The post is accompanied by a fundraising event, which has so far raised more than $3,500 for Trees For The Future.
Trees For The Future told Newsweek that it has nothing to do with @plantatreeco.
Marketing and Communications Manager Lindsay Cobb said: “When the fundraising activity caught our attention, we immediately contacted the organization and asked them to clarify the nature of the fundraising activity, and then we reported the post to Instagram.”
Although it is impossible to verify whether @plantatreeco is the original poster behind this trend, Instagram confirms that the initiator of the "add your" sticker is displayed unless the author chooses to remain anonymous, their account is private, or the original post is deleted.
A spokesperson for the newly renamed Meta, the parent company of Instagram, told Newsweek: "The trend of'we will plant a tree for every pet picture' shows the power of the Instagram community in raising awareness of important topics. Just like All other'add your' same' sticker threads, it is started by a separate Instagram account, not Instagram."
Although the stories of many of your friends may still be viewable with stickers, in some personal stories, they are no longer linked to all other users who use stickers to post pet photos or allow you to "add yours" .
Since this is a new feature, the viral popularity of stickers may have flooded Instagram's servers, preventing stories from continuing to link to each other or preventing more users from adding to stickers.
There may also be a limit to the number of users that can be added to the sticker.
Newsweek has contacted an Instagram representative to clarify this point.
Some people are skeptical of the intention behind the @plantatreeco post.
In the description of @plantatreeco, they claimed to have raised more than $500,000 "for different charities" and planted 6,500 trees, even though there was no link to any website.
Many accounts exist on Instagram, including @takedown_plantatreeco and @exposing.plantatreeco, claiming that @plantatreeco has not fulfilled its charitable promise.
Twitter users have been skeptical of @plantatreeco's motives, some of which date back to 2019.
The account @/ plantatreeco on insta is fake! There are a lot of fake natural accounts spreading, and they don't actually help the earth, they just want your likes, attention and money (by purchasing their goods). Don't spread these further! @/fakenatureaccountbuster Learn more on ig! pic.twitter.com/z6NuuTSROU
@plantatreeco is accused of using a variety of social and environmental reasons to expand its follower base, including the Australian bushfires and George Floyd's post-George Floyd "Black People's Fate" campaign.
A website that appears to be linked to an Instagram account sells jewelry and only received negative reviews on TrustPilot.
Newsweek has contacted @plantatreeco for comments.
PSA: I have seen a lot of people I follow on Instagram repost @plantatreeco's post, claiming that they will donate 10c from every story repost they receive, but this is a scam pic.twitter.com/QvlQloG6XI
It is strongly recommended that your users avoid sharing their personal details with @plantatreeco.
However, if you are passionate about reforestation, you may be able to donate some tree planting plans.
You can donate directly to Trees For The Future, an organization that aims to eradicate poverty by training farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to plant trees to regenerate their land.
Cobb added that non-profit organizations do have the ability to plant as many trees as the initial trend promised.
"We must clarify that the Future Tree has the capacity to plant millions of trees. This year alone, farmers have planted more than 35 million trees in our project," she said.
"To date, we have planted more than 225 million trees, which has had a positive impact on more than 300,000 people. Earlier this year, we announced our goal of planting 1 billion trees by 2030, and we are happy to report that, We are expected to achieve this goal."
The Trillion Trees Campaign was initiated by WWF, WCS and the International Bird Conservation Organization, aiming to protect and restore one trillion trees by 2050 through a global project.
Similarly, the Nature Conservancy’s "Plant a Billion Trees" campaign aims to plant 1 billion trees worldwide by 2025 to solve the problem of deforestation.
One Tree Planted is a reforestation effort closer to home. It is a non-profit organization that works with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. National Forests and Reserves to plant trees in California, Oregon, and Florida.
Correction: The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Future Tree trains farmers in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Currently, all of their business countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
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