Company offers fake friends photo service to help customers look popular on social media

TOKYO —

To many people, seeing is believing. Following that logic, surely a collection of photos showing yourself surrounded by friends and well-wishers is proof positive of a fulfilling, active social life, right?

That’s the thinking behind the Real Appeal service offered by Japanese company Family Romance. For a fee, Family Romance will dispatch staff members to pose for photos with you in the festive setting of your choice, so that you can later share the images on social media and publicly announce how great your private life is.

Clients can request certain genders, ages, or other visual characteristics, making their final selections from photos of available Family Romance employees. For those who want to create an intense aura of popularity, you can hire multiple photo costars at once, like the satisfied customer who left this testimonial on Family Romance’s website.

“I requested 10 Family Romance staff members pose as my friends, and we held a birthday party for me at a famous hotel in Tokyo, having a few drinks at the bar with a beautiful view of the nighttime skyline. After that, we went to my room to drink some more, they presented me with a big cake, and I took lots of selfies LOL I’ve been bust lately, so it was a fun time, and I was able to share some good photos on Facebook and Twitter.”

However, there’s one weakness to such schemes that’s pretty glaring. If you don’t have enough friends to get together for a birthday party, is anyone really paying attention to your social media posts? However, Family Romance is also billing its Real Appeal service as a way to affect a specific group or individual’s perception of you. If you want your coworkers to think you’re a more sociable person than you appear to be under normal working conditions, or if you’re romantically interested in an acquaintance with whom you’ve got an online connection and want to present yourself as someone who’s fun to be around, Family Romance can help you craft images that make it look like you’re having an absolute blast on the weekends.

The company evens promotes itself as a way to get back at an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Recently dumped? Start tweeting a bunch of photos of the great time you’re having with your new lover (who’s actually a Family Romance employee in disguise) and let your ex know that you’ve moved on in record time. You can even request the same Family Romance staff member again on subsequent occasions if you want to really sell the fact that things are getting serious.

However, Family Romance’s services don’t come cheap. Each staff member must be booked for a minimum of two hours, which costs 8,000 yen. You’re also on the hook for any travel expenses involved, and in the case of the customer above who hired 10 “friends” for his hotel birthday party, odds are he had to pay for their drinks too, in addition to the 80,000 yen he was dropping just to have them be there (and that’s assuming he managed to wrap the whole thing up within 120 minutes).

As such, it’s safe to say that while Family Romance’s services are going to be of the greatest interest to people without a lot of friends, potential customers will still need to have a lot of money.

Related: Family Romance
Source: Jin

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  • 7

    Kurobune

    Jeez ! You gotta be kidding me!

  • 4

    Yubaru

    This is sad on so many levels. I would hate to be the person that hooks up with one of these types with the expectation that they are friendly and outgoing and have a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and be shocked by reality.

  • 11

    pacint

    Truly sad.

    Not on social media myself, e-mail serves me fine.

  • 11

    mokshya

    i would prefer to be alone whole life than to be be with a fake friend

  • 1

    John-San

    This can not be true

  • 0

    kaynide

    With the intense pressure in this country, I can imagine this being quite popular.

    Just imagine being a new graduate moving to Tokyo...you've had the same friends since elementary school and now you've been thrust into a place where you have no connections and quite possibly don't really know how to make new friends easily.

    ...you're too busy with a new job and before you know it your birthday comes around. Couple that with hounding from home about how you're doing and whether or not you are dating and the pressure can be real to show some pictures just to get people to shut up.

  • 2

    gogogo

    Good god, goto a park, take photo's with other people, join a club... take photos.... seriously?

  • 3

    goldorak

    With the intense pressure in this country, I can imagine this being quite popular.

    I disagree. If anything, Japan is the one country where being alone at cafes, restos etc is 'the norm' or at least socially accepted/acceptable. Different story in the west, particularly in the English speaking world, where having a large circle of acquaintances (rather than friends) is de rigueur. Most J ppl I know are what we would call in the west 'loners' and most are fine with that.

    Really don't think we can lecture them (j ppl) about insecurity, social anxiety and the need for 'fake friends'.

  • 2

    theFu

    We alI need a fake profile to show the TSA when entering the USA!

  • 9

    kohakuebisu

    Just go to a bar and say "The drinks are on me!" Cheaper than 80,000 yen! ;)

  • 1

    Tokyo-Engr

    @Goldorak - Very good post. I agree with you. Cultural differences aside the human species has much in common. As for me - I say to each their own. Someone is offering a service and there are those that need it. If everyone is satisfied in the end - well good for them. I am certainly in no place to judge them.

    That said, I also agree with kohauebisu!! And going to the bar might end up being a bit more interesting!

  • 3

    John-San

    Goldorak. I travel alone, I have never travel with anyone. I don,t do Facebook or simular. I must be abnormal. I have no friends. I find having friends is a lot of work, Having to not often when you are totally against their way of thinking if you tell them the way you feel honestly they disown you and even make up stories about you which are design to alienate you. You can have your friends or mates. It too much work. Friends or mates are for people who need a attention, Who prefer to think that someone other then themselves are concern about them. In return for this friendship a false emthemy of concern is perform for the so call friend. Selve-centrement is what the population are about these day.

  • 2

    Dan Lewis

    So if you get married and need a friend to vouch for the authenticity of your relationship, BINGO!!

    (It's not a huge leap.)

  • -9

    gaijin playa

    This isn't a bad idea actually. Social media is a good way to make yourself more appealing. Like, if someone dot sees your page and you've got all these friends and doing awesome things then you'll appear to be more attractive. I know for myself I regularly update my social media with pics of myself working out or standing next to a Mercedes. Nothing wrong with it, just ups your game is all. Maybe I could hire myself out to this company!! Legit!!

  • 4

    Garthgoyle

    So the guy in the article spent around 100,000yen on a party with fake friends for two hours (or more). Wow! That's just not sad but money wise really dumb. He could have done so much more with that money and actually met real people.

  • 4

    wtfjapan

    Not on social media myself, e-mail serves me fine. social media is for people with way too much free time, I struggle just to answer all my emails each day! The last thing I want to do when its time to relax is post what I had for lunch today, or a selfie with some uninteresting object I walked past to give the appearance I'm not totally vain.

  • 2

    ThonTaddeo

    What happens when the customer's real friends and acquaintances notice that these new "friends" only appear in the birthday party pictures and never again? Do the Family Romance mercenaries charge increasing amounts to select the same "friends" in future photos?

  • 1

    MsDelicious

    I am my own best friend. I really like myself. I even blow kisses at myself in front of the mirror.

    Why would someone pay someone to send over fake friend. Weird losers.

  • 2

    inkochi

    It is a bit like if you want to look slimmer you just surround yourself with fat people.

    Some people have a lot of fake friends anyway.

    But the person who had all her fake friends back to her place for drinks and cake seems so sadly lonely.

  • -1

    Silvafan

    While this may seem like quite sad phenomenon, it is not unique to only Japan.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm81z9L5qEE

  • 8

    wtfjapan

    I am my own best friend. I really like myself. I even blow kisses at myself in front of the mirror. Your so vain, you probably think this thread is about, your so vain. Bet you think this thread is about you , dont you, dont you......

  • -2

    Kurobune

    @wtfjapan 8:25 PM JST - That is THE BEST comment I have EVER read on this site ! That avatar says it all !

  • 1

    commanteer

    Buy fake friends to impress people who don't care on a sometimes isolating social platform. That's sad all around. I know people who fill up their Facebook with posts of their "glamorous" life, when their life is anything but. Many of those same people have 1000s of "friends" who they maybe met once, if at all. All the while creating the illusion to themselves and others that their life is just tops.

    On the other hand, I know a guy who sometimes seems to know everybody in the world. He has a dormant Facebook account, with maybe one profile picture and no updates.

  • 0

    jonobugs

    I've read loads of depressing stories but this one takes the cake. I cannot imagine this ever working in your favour. If you are trying to impress a potential mate, it will bite you in the rear if it works out. If they are impressed with your social life only to find that you have none, what do you think will happen?

    It's a bad idea to spend your time trying to impress others. Spend your time and energy to better yourself and the rest will follow.

  • 0

    itsonlyrocknroll

    Paying for fake friends is life and your wallets way of telling you to get out more, real friends or not priced by the hour, or tax deductible.

  • 0

    lesenfant

    Wow just when you think things couldn't get more pathetic.

  • 1

    Dukeleto

    I am literally and utterly speechless!

  • 0

    RowanM

    If you don't have real friends, who are you trying to show off for?

  • -1

    sf2k

    if companies own your soul that much that you don't have time for friends or how to make them, then ask HR to assign you

  • 2

    ozziedesigner

    Sounds sad. But then it's no different to lots of BS facebook friends i guess

  • 2

    Spanki

    I always find the best way to come across as being fun to be around, is to actually be fun to be around.

  • -1

    IloveCoffee

    Why would anyone pay money for this BS? I can literally just make a new fake profile on Facebook, and add 5 hundred random friends from the suggested list in 5 minutes.

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