#AlexFromTarget was Just a Big Hoax

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Remember Alex from Target? He took the Internet by a storm this week with his good looks and strong work ethic, causing many to swoon and others to curse the power of social media.

Now, a tech startup is claiming responsibility for making #alexfromtarget one of the “most amazing social media experiments ever.” But it’s unclear whether the company deserves credit.

The CEO of Breakr, a company that claims to connect “fans with their fandom,” said in a LinkedIn post Tuesday that the company harnessed “the powerful fangirl demographic” to make Alex Lee, a real Target employee from Texas, a global trending topic.

“Abbie (@auscalum), one of our fangirls from Kensington, UK posted this picture of Alex Lee (@acl163) on Twitter. After spreading the word amongst our fangirl followers to trend #AlexFromTarget, we started adding fuel to the fire by tweeting about it to our bigger YouTube influencers,” Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares said in his post.

From there, the conversation spread through people supporting the hashtag “just to trend it” and others raging over the fact that a guy could become “Internet famous” just for his looks, he said. People tweeted parody images and created YouTube videos while the media, including CNN, published stories about it.

“It was based on looks,” Leonares told CNN late Tuesday. “You put a good looking guy in front of girls, girls are going to go crazy over him.”

For Breakr’s CEO, the experiment was about seeing whether “we could create something out of nothing.”

The lesson? “If you can get a very big population of the fangirls and fanboys, you can do whatever you want. You can make your dreams happen,” Leonares said.

Not everyone’s buying it. Adding to the confusion, Alex and Abbie, the “fangirl” Leonares credited with boosting the trend, said on Twitter that they had no connection to Breakr.

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