The latest viral trend to sweep the internet was a very wholesome one indeed.

Over the last few days, millions have posted images of their pets to their Instagram stories believing that each image will lead to a tree being planted (spoiler alert: it appears unlikely, unfortunately).

More than 2.5 million people participated in the trend by sharing pictures of their furry, scaly, or feathered friends. By clicking the sticker, users are able to swipe through people’s stories to see their animals. The sticker reads: “We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture” along with a dog emoji.

However, it doesn’t say who exactly “we” are as the sticker doesn’t link to a campaign website or even to another Instagram profile.

One account, called Plant A Tree Co. (@plantatreeco), has since come forward, claiming to be responsible for the trend. The company claimed it didn’t realise how viral their post would get and admitted they didn’t have the resources to plant the millions of trees so deleted the original post 10 minutes later - hence why the trend appeared nameless.

In an explanation post, they wrote: “Thank you for sharing your pets, they’re adorable.

“We posted the new “Add Yours” story as a fun tree planting campaign where we can show off our awesome pets! We immediately realized the post would grow too big and that we didn’t have the resources to plant that many trees, so we deleted it 10 minutes later.”

They added that they were still supporting the fundraiser: “Even though we deleted it, the stories continued to spread out of our control. Our credit for the post was also removed, because of what seems like an @instagram bug. We want to use this awareness for lasting impact, so we created this fundraiser.

“Please share this post and the fundraiser on your story, and tag all your friends, celebrities, and @instagram so they can see this and so we can ACTUALLY plant 4 million trees.”

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Despite the apparent explanation, the confusion surrounding how the trend started led to some sharing jokes and memes on other social media platforms to poke fun at the viral sticker:

Some felt as though the trend harked back to the earlier days of the internet. Remember those “copy and paste or else” Facebook statuses from the late noughties, or chain letters?

One Twitter user pointed out that the trend has a serious pong of those “one like equals one prayer” posts we typically see on our timelines.

Meanwhile some didn’t understand why the trend was needed and argued that people should plant trees themselves, while also adding their skepticism at the idea millions of trees would be planted as a result of pet pictures. (Considering the alleged creators Plant A Tree Co. had to delete the original post ten minutes in due to the overwhelming response, they would be correct).

Magician Matt Tarrant suggested that instead of waiting for an anonymous Instagram account to plant a tree for you, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it yourself:

Some just enjoyed the pet spam for what it was:

The trend also inspired several skits and reactions on TikTok:

@nikkithechameleon

This is a logistical nightmare I do not envy the IG team organising this lol #fyp #instagram #plantatree #trending #comedy #pov #aussie

@ben.hogan

Booked and most certainly busy #plantatree #australia #instagram

@zeefeed.com.au

OKAY BUT SERIOUSLY WHO GONNA PLANT ALL THOSE TREES #instagramstories #instagramtree #planttrees #criticalthinking #instagram

‘Add Yours’ stickers show the original author when you tap on them, except in some cases, including when the author removes their handle as the designated author or deletes the original post.

A Meta spokesman said: “The ‘we’ll plant one tree for every pet picture’ trend shows the power of the Instagram community to raise awareness on important topics. Like all other ‘Add Yours’ sticker threads, it was started by an independent Instagram account – not Instagram.”

Indy100 has reached out to Plant A Tree Co. for comment.

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