A cursory scroll through the Explore page on Instagram can feel like a visual assault: sponsored content, taunting influencer pictures and cute pets all vying for your attention through algorithmic targeting. As you work your way through the social media platform’s recommendations, you are also likely to encounter another constant: celebrity fan accounts.
The fan account has long been a fixture of celebrity culture, as the focus has moved away from tabloid newspapers to blogs and fansites, and from there to social media. From the now-closed Instagram page @beyhive, which had 1.2 million followers thanks to its regular Beyoncé updates, to the myriad Harry Styles fan accounts on the platform, and the gossipy shots of Ana de Armas Updates, these pages keep their many followers informed with daily repurposing of their favourite celebrities’ images and content. It is a fandom largely made by fans, for fans.
While the Instagram fan accounts of global music and movie stars might seem a logical extension of their far-reaching appeal and power, there is a proliferation of pages dedicated to British TV stars, too, from Holly Willoughby to David Tennant to Amanda Holden, all racking up followers in the tens of thousands, with many created during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown. But what is behind these more niche accounts, and what prompted their creation?
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 24/03/21]