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What Are ‘Rage Bait’ Influencers?

These Influencers Are Making Content to Make You Rage — And It’s Working

There is a new crop of influencers that specialize in creating content designed to cause rage.

Introducing The “Rage”

Before Twitter, what we now know as X, it was widely regarded as a breeding ground for trolls and amateur comedians who frequently established online personalities designed to press the masses’ emotions. However, since then, TikTok has emerged as a venue for so-called “rage-bait influencers” to find new popularity.

By orchestrating interactions and shooting them for content, these influencers have created a new technique to generate views and provoke heated disputes in comment sections.

Winta Zesu – The Origin

“I realized that videos really blow up when there’s like controversial things going on in them,” 22-year-old New York influencer Winta Zesu said. She got popularity after her videos containing sketches of her confronting rude servers went viral. After a 2022 red carpet photo of her revealed two people supposedly chatting about her in the background, she realized she could benefit from fabricated controversy and has since built a 515,000-strong following.

Although most of her followers are well aware of the humorous, provocative stuff Zesu creates, when those rage-bait films make it to various platforms, the comedy is lost in translation, frequently resulting in a genuine public outcry.


Rage-bait films can be as innocent as Zesu’s videos of pretending to fight with her sister, or as contentious as making outrageous political statements to stir up controversy. According to sources, the latter is a popular method used by far-right internet stars to increase their views.

These approaches are similar to those used by TV news pundits such as Tucker Carlson, who frequently use rage to boost audience. However, in the age of social media, rage-baiting has apparently made the internet more poisonous, particularly because algorithms like TikTok prioritize participation over all else. “Rage farming is the product of a perfect storm of f***ery, an unholy mélange of algorithms and anxiety,” writes Molly Jong-Fast.

However, amateur far-right pundits are not the only ones benefiting from the rise of rage baiting on TikTok. Left-wing commentators, such as Aunt Karen, who uses her account to call out racist behavior, and RX0rcist, a pharmacist who fact-checks unfounded medical advice, are also using rage baiting tactics to challenge misinformation and microagressions.

@winta_zesu Wow #gymtok #gymgirl #nycgirl ♬ original sound – Winta Zesu

Aunt Karen, whose actual name is Denise Bradley, told Insider that she never intended to rage-bait with her content, but wanted people to consider why they labeled it as such. “Many people believe that my content is rage-baiting simply because they’re uncomfortable with the reality Black people and other people of colour face in this world,” Bradley told the news organization. “I believe that in order to effect change, we must first acknowledge the reality of the situation. I do not believe in sugarcoating issues. So if people think I’m rage-baiting, they should ask themselves, ‘What is she trying to get us to see?'”

Controversy = Gaining Enagement?

According to data, these videos are more likely to go viral on social media than happy messages. In 2013, researchers discovered that users on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, were more likely to post content that generated disgust and righteous indignation than content that evoked joy or grief.

“The goal of social media platforms is to keep people engaged for as long as possible,” University of Buffalo professor Yotam Ophir, who studies misinformation and extremism, told the site. “It doesn’t matter to them if we enjoy the video or we get angry at it, as long as we’re staying, listening, commenting, and sharing it with our friends.”

Online fury gets more likes, and by validating that material, it encourages people to be angry online. According to experts, social media has been shown to incentivize users to express more moral outrage over time, and the algorithms that power these platforms tend to favor content that provokes and evokes anger in order to maximise interaction, regardless of the cost.

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