Essena O'Neill Goes Offline: Social Media Star Shuts Down Accounts

04/11/2015 9:57 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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Video by Emily Verdouw

UPDATE: Essena O'Neill shut down her Instagram and YouTube accounts on Wednesday afternoon after gaining global attention for revealing the truth behind her social media stardom.

This week the Australian teen released a video revealing she'd had a change of heart on her 'Instafame', and has since defended herself against accusations she is only seeking to further her profile, as it emerged she has picked up another half million followers since her stance went global.

Late on Wednesday afternoon O’Neill released another Vimeo titled "Let's Talk About Something More Important Than Me, Please?" in which she addressed all of the media attention, stating that "there is more important topics that are worth headlines than that."

"This is my kind of point. I changed something about myself and my life that I didn't agree with. I don't agree with, I guess, deceitful on Instagram," O'Neill said in the latest video.

"If you're getting paid for something, say it, especially on YouTube."

In her time on social media since age 12, O’Neill amassed 500,000 Instagram followers, more than 60,000 Snapchat followers and more than 250,000 YouTube and Tumblr subscribers.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME, please? from Essena O'Neill on Vimeo.

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O'Neill's Instagram account has gone offline.

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The 18-year-old's YouTube page has also been disabled.

O’Neill, the 18-year-old from Queensland told Channel Nine’s Today Show on Wednesday she had no idea her campaign would attract so much media attention.

And it has emerged while O'Neill, who said she could rake in $2000 for sharing an image of herself having a cup of tea in the bath, is turning her back on paid sponsorship and is calling for people to make donations to her on a new website.

In a video in which she railed against her own and others' lack of transparency in declaring promotional deals, and in which she detailed her own unhappiness at having promoted herself on her looks, will remain active on Instagram and Youtube -- as she believes they still have educational purposes.

Today Show hosts, Karl Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys suggested while there had been a mostly positive response to her strident video, her critics said her campaign was a grab to get more followers.

“If I knew that was going to happen, I would have put (up) a really well-spoken video with clear points. That was just a ramble (sic) mess,” O’Neill said.

“You know what, you can say it’s emotional but it was almost just waking up and trying to be transparent,” she said.

The teenager renamed her Instagram account to "Social Media Is Not Real Life", and went back through old posts and updated each caption with the "truth behind each shot", telling how many frames it took to get the shot, which posts were sponsored, and often how lonely she felt at the time.

“I wanted to start a discussion about what's real when we put up all these images of ourselves, desperately hoping for that approval,” O’Neill said.

“I was someone that put a lot of social validation in my appearance and how other people perceived me online. I think whenever you put that much worth into just that stuff, it’s going to give you a sense of disconnect and I guess own heartbreak with yourself,” she said.

On her recently launched website, Let's Be Game Changers O'Neill wrote, “I could make a killing on current social media but that stands for a system based on validation of numbers, success in likes and happiness in followers. Take it from me, being famous online will never equal long-term happiness.”

Asked whether she will be doing any more paid posts again, O’Neill said she would not.

“I have nothing against it, I think it should be known to the general public," she said.

"I think if you are promoting a product and you have money from that it should just be known to the people viewing your content.”

On the Support page of her website, O'Neill does provide readers with the opportunity to pay for her content.

"If you support any of my videos or free content, the button below is my open hat to you. I'm not a purist. I need money to cover the basics. If you get something from what I'm doing, pay what it's worth to you," she wrote.

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