Social media app once valued $1.2b shuts down after admitting most users are bots

An internal investigation at IRL, which ironically stands for In Real Life, found out that a staggering 95 percent of users were fake.

by | Published on 29th Jun 2023

An up-and-coming social media app named IRL was forced to shut down after being involved in what is undoubtedly the biggest corporate blunder of the year so far.

Everything was going well until an internal investigation revealed something disconcerting.

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IRL, which ironically stands for In Real Life, was first founded in 2018 by CEO Abraham Shafi as an event-organizing platform.

The idea was to use social media app features to organize events that actually took place offline.

“What we’re focused on with IRL is helping more people be together,” Shafi told Forbes last year.

The founder claimed the app had 20+ million users and, in 2022, the company announced a $170 million raise in an investment round led by SoftBank and Peter Thiel.

At its peak, the app was valued at $1.2 billion.

Shortly thereafter, all hell broke loose.

The first red flag was raised when the company unceremoniously laid off 25 percent of its workforce.

The second red flag was raised by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when it began investigating whether the company violated securities laws.

Then, following a series of reports by tech magazine The Information, the company’s board of investors suspended Shafi and decided to launch an internal investigation.

The problem, according to The Information, was that the number of real active users was much lower than advertized.

And to say that they were right would be an understatement.

The investigation revealed that 95 percent (!) of IRL users were “automated or from bots” and this was of course the final nail in the coffin.

The IRL website is still online, but only as a landing page.

And investigation on the CEO will inevitably follow and, in the meantime, his email address appears to be inactive and his Twitter account was deleted.

And we thought Instagram and Twitter had a bot problem.



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Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.

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