‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture’ - What started as a sweet Instagram trend may end up being a scam

‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture’ - What started as a sweet Instagram trend may end up being a scam
The photo thread has received over 4 million shares on Instagram.Instagram
  • An Instagram trend about planting a tree for every pet photo shared went viral.
  • It has been shared over 4 million times raising the question of who’s going to plant the trees?
  • An organisation has declared it’s the originator of the post and has even started a fundraiser for the campaign.
Instagram photo threads have been going viral even before the feature was officially announced by the company. One particular photo thread that’s caught everyone’s attention is the “We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture” which has been shared by over 4 million people. You’ve probably seen people posting photos of their pets on this photo thread but who’s actually behind it and who’s going to plant those trees?

But what are Instagram photo threads?

This is essentially a sticker called “Add Yours” that you can use in Instagram Stories. Once you add your photo and give a title to it like “Recent photo you clicked” and share it, people can tap on the sticker and add their photos. The photo thread continues like that.

Who’s planting the 4 million trees?

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One particular photo thread doing the rounds is about planting a tree for every pet picture shared. An Instagram page called “Plant A Tree Co.” has announced that it was them who started the trend as a “fun tree planting campaign”. The thread was however deleted since they realised that they did not have enough resources to plant the trees but the trend continued. Plant A Tree Co. also said that Instagram removed their credit for the post due to a bug.

Seeing how the trend went viral, Plant A Tree Co. decided to start a fundraiser for “Trees For The Future'' so they can plant the 4 million trees. According to their Instagram page, $1.8 million has been raised from the $74million project.

This may sound like we’ve found our answer but there’s more to it.

Plant a tree scam

Freelance journalist Patrick Marlborough dug into the organisation and discovered that the founder of Plant a Tree Co. is Zack Saadioui, a 23-year-old computer science major from Florida, CNET reported. Marlborough also found that the organisation has little to no information about their campaigns, and that they’ve held free giveaways of necklaces but actually earn revenue through shipping charges.

Plant a Tree Co. has also been “exposed” by other Instagram accounts which claim that the organisation started campaigns during the Australian bushfires in 2019. There are many comments in the fundraiser post too about the organisation being a scam.

Saddioui even acknowledged to CNET that they made “unintentional mistakes” in the past, and they never anticipated how viral their older campaigns would become. Saddioui added that the organisation does not touch any of the funds raised and that they’ve raised over $500,000 for several charities. Saddioui also wants to partner with Instagram to fulfill the goal saying that it would be a “fun campaign to plant 4 million trees.”

Saddioui also reiterated that Instagram removed Plant a Tree Co. as the originator of the post. If you come across any of the photo threads, you can see profiles of users who shared photos and also the account that started it.

Instagram trends going viral aren’t anything new but what started out as a fun way for people to share photos of their pets turned out actually turned out to be more than that.


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