Influencers Ryan and Sammy Elsharhawy — also known as the Halsa brothers — are being accused by a number of internet users of faking their fame by staging paparazzi photos and videos. While they haven’t replied to the accusations, YouTuber Danny Gonzalez speculated that it was to help build the brothers’ online presence.
“By far the most damning evidence for this paparazzi video being staged is that I don’t know who Ryan Halsa is,” Gonzalez said in his video, presenting his evidence for why he thought the brothers were staging the shoots. “Neither do you. And neither does anybody in the comments.”
Ryan, 19, and Sammy, 21, grew up in Southern California and have 4.8 million followers each on Instagram. Most of the information known about them is from their interview with New York Weekly in September 2022 — a publication that allegedly charges $295 for a feature article that “increases brand awareness” and gives “a instant SEO boost.”
According to the article, the brothers have always had an interest in being “the most famous and influential people” and started filming vlogs in 2015 “with little to no success.” In November 2021, they started focusing their efforts on growing an Instagram audience.
“My purpose on social media is to be the biggest influencer ever, I am on the path to being as big as Charli D’amelio in next two months,” he said. “I want to be the prince of Instagram and be one of the most followed on the platform.”
Despite Gonzalez not knowing who the brothers were, he did come across several paparazzi-style TikTok videos that seemingly showcased the brothers trying to avoid being filmed or doing nice deeds like bringing the person behind the camera some food.
“I was confused at first, but it seemed like it was posted by, like, an actual paparazzi account — an account called Hollywood Paparazzi,” Gonzalez explained, noting he’d never heard of the company before. “So I clicked on it, and lo and behold it is just hundreds and hundreds — just pages of videos — exclusively about Ryan Halsa and his brother, Sammy Halsa.”
But based on the videos — particularly the poor audio quality when it comes to the paparazzi speaking and the fact that the brothers are rarely seen together — Gonzalez is convinced the account is fully run by the brothers themselves.
“It seems like their videos are designed with a few specific purposes in mind. One: They want you to think that they are famous,” Gonzalez said. “Two: They want you to be on their side right away.”
The bio for Hollywood Paparazzi lists the name Elijah Basurto, which, when searched, produces one relevant link and it’s the Hollywood Paparazzi TikTok account.
It’s not just the Hollywood Paparazzi account that’s been flagged either. Another “gossip” TikTok account called @behindurback claims to be the “#1 Gossip and Tea page” but only features videos that include the Halsa brothers and stock footage of Justin Bieber.
“I think these dudes are just trying to look famous,” Gonzalez concluded. “I just think if it was a joke their posts would be a little funnier and they’d be leaning into the goofiness a little bit more. And they probably wouldn’t be spending so much money buying Instagram followers.”
There’s no concrete evidence of the brothers buying Instagram followers. In Gonzalez’s video, he points to a pattern of Ryan getting hundreds of thousands of daily new followers every week in 2022. One week Gonzalez highlighted, between July 18 and July 24, 2022, Ryan allegedly got over 700,000 new followers, which is pretty unusual.
“I can’t shake the feeling that they could’ve done this so much better,” Gonzalez said.
In December, Ryan posted a lengthy Instagram caption about social media needing “a new sibling duo.” He has not posted since.
“Social media needs a new duo,” he wrote. “One that doesn’t just care about hype but also spreading positivity and making social media a less hateful place. AGAIN we love you all and the support you bring really feels like you guys are the ones that want a new sibling duo ruling Hollywood and we love that about all you guys so much.”
In The Know by Yahoo reached out to the brothers for comment but did not hear back as of reporting.
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