On June 20, Daryl Aiden Yow woke up to a flurry of messages from friends asking if he was okay. He was perfectly fine, but confused. Because unbeknown to the 27-year-old local influencer and photographer, an online story about how he’d used stock images on his Instagram — either Photoshopping them into composite images or passing them off as his own — had gone viral. As in, break-the-Internet-and -WhatsApp-group-chats viral. Even the BBC had picked up on the news. “I totally take responsibility for [what happened], and I know now I need to be totally transparent,” Daryl tells 8Days.sg in his first interview since the plagiarism exposé in June.  

People were enraged; the comments, savage; and the backlash, massive. With clients and close friends, including BFF Insta-star Drea Chong, implicated by association, Daryl had some damage control to do. And @darylaidenyow’s PR strategy is the exact opposite of his whimsical kaleidoscopic photos and edits: Less is more. He stripped his IG feed bare, save for a lengthy mea culpa. And then he vanished from social media for almost three months (or about 3,000 lifetimes in Instagram years).

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