But while the story was outrageous, it wasn't really true. The whole thing was started by a random Twitter user with a couple thousand followers, who posted a since-deleted compilation of a few shots they claimed influencers had marked as taken in Pripyat -- the ghost town located around Chernobyl. The most shocking photo, of a woman dropping a protective suit to reveal undergarments woefully insufficient to prevent radiation poisoning, was in fact taken 2,000 miles away. Another had a caption indicating it was taken during Men's Fashion Week in London.
Also, most of the people in the photos weren't influencers -- not even aspiring ones. One of the women pictured in the original tweet was a Ukrainian local with just 204 followers who said she had visited Chernobyl to pay her respects. It seems unlikely that she hoped her long post about history would get her invited to collab with James Charles. Another of the original photos was taken way back in 2010, when Instagram was still competing for startup capital with an app that told you which $#*! My Dad Says character was hottest.
Still, sites needed to gobble up those outrage clicks before everyone got bored, so this got breathless coverage in outlets like Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, The Independent, and so on. Anyway, that's the world we have now. Love it or go live in a cave. (Please invite us to your cave.)