The internet is blowing up over these Chernobyl selfies and travel porn pics.
The nuclear wasteland has become a major tourist attraction since the May premiere of an HBO miniseries about the 1986 power plant tragedy, with some tour groups reporting a 40 percent spike in bookings.
It was only matter of time before Instagram users turned it into a hot photo op.
“Meanwhile in Chernobyl: Instagram influencers flocking to the site of the disaster,” wrote Bruno Zupan alongside screenshots of Instagram images in a viral tweet that’s since been shared more than 10,700 times.
Now the man behind the “Chernobyl” series is weighing in on the tasteless new trend.
“It’s wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I’ve seen the photos going around,” series writer-creator Craig Mazin tweeted in response. “If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there.”
The most controversial Insta thirst trap comes from @nz.nik, who’s picutred doing a half-naked photoshoot in a transparent, Hazmat-like suit in front of an abandoned building in Pripyat, the Ukrainian city built to serve the Chernobyl power plant, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history. The image has garnered comments calling the user, who has 3,922 followers, “repulsive,” “disrespectful” and “disgusting.”
Another offending image came from law student Julia Baessler, who has 320,000 followers and has since deleted the post. The image of Baessler suited up in hardhat and mask in the control room of the “destroyed unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,” contrasted starkly with the bikini and fitness pics she almost exclusively posts. “Standing there is just indescribable, it’s shocking and something I will never forget,” she captioned the photo.
There has already been some backlash to the backlash, with Atlantic writer Taylor Lorenz pointing out that the tweet cropped some of the Instagrammers’ contextual captions and that their small follower counts disqualify them from being “influencers.”
This is far from the first time the internet has risen against disaster porn and tasteless selfies at the sites of tragedies. In 2014, Breanna Mitchell was virtually reamed for a cheerful photo she posted of herself smiling at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Many other Instagram users followed suit, spurring the Holocaust memorial to take to social media in March to request that, “When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed.”