Truth behind viral '1 tree for every pet picture' trend on Instagram

Picture of a dog's head
The onslaught of pet pictures has come from a single Instragram sticker that went viral (Pexels)

Over the past few days, everyone’s Instagram feeds were inundated with pictures of peoples’ pets.

It was people adding to the viral Instagram sticker that said, ‘We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture’.

Within a few days, the sticker had been shared over four million times, but then people began to wonder: ‘Where will all these trees be planted?’ and ‘Who will plant them?’

The trend was started by Plant A Tree Co. who posted a story to their one million followers with Instagram’s new Add Yours sticker. As the sticker suggested, the company intended to plant a tree for every pet picture that was reposted on the story.

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On November 1, Instagram rolled out the ‘Add Yours’ feature – which allowed users to reshare and create their own post with a sticker as part of a public thread.

With the sticker going viral over the weekend, Plant A Tree Co. took to their Instagram feed on Monday night to post a message to everyone who’d taken part in the trend to explain that they’d be unable to keep their promise of planting one tree for every picture of a pet submitted.

‘We posted the new “Add Yours” story as a fun tree planting campaign where we can show off our awesome pets!,’ said the company in the .

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They explained that after realising that the post would grow too big and they didn’t have the resources to plant that many trees, they deleted it 10 minutes later.

However, the stories continued to be shared even though the original post had been deleted.

Plant A Tree Co.’s credit for the post was also removed, because of an Instagram bug.

In order to use the momentum for lasting impact, the company created a fundraiser so they could actually plant 4 million trees.

Many users questioned the authenticity of the Instagram campaign asking the company where they intended to plant all of these trees in the first place.

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a bizarre Instagram trend from today that has 1.9 million people sharing photos of their pets to “plant a tree”, but no one verifying who exactly is apparently planting the trees, and no link to their page. pic.twitter.com/ydEebgM60j

— Rossalyn Warren (@RossalynWarren)

More concerns were raised by the campaign had been allowed to go viral by the platform, without proper measures in place to check its validity in the first place.

In response to users, a spokesperson for Instagram explained that the platform was looking into ways to increase transparency in future.

‘The “plant one tree for every pet picture” Add Yours thread was disabled to limit misunderstanding around who authored the original post,’ the spokesperson said to PA.

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‘We’re working on ways to make authorship clearer and minimise confusion moving forward,’ they added.

Metro has reached out to Plant A Tree Co. for comment.

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