March 24, 2024

Every couple of months, a new TikTok phenomenon takes over, racking up millions of views, along with endless conspiracy theories and half-baked takes. For a brief period in November, that was the #SurvivingSophia hashtag.

Based on a handful of tweets and TikToks, the story was compelling and confusing — the viewer had the feeling of being thrown into the middle of a tale that had no clear beginning or end, just videos of people either talking about their experiences or self-proclaimed cultural recappers trying to parse unconfirmed details. But even if people couldn’t quite follow, it was engrossing: As of publishing, the hashtags “SurvivingSophia” and “SophiaNur” have accumulated a combined 63.8 million views on TikTok.

According to some of the people behind the posts, the central character, a woman named Sophia Nur, is a 24-year-old Somali Muslim from Toronto, Canada, who bounced around from one major city to the next. They say Nur is “obsessed with L.A. influencers” and always managed to find her way into spaces where they would be, like Jake Paul’s Triller Fight against Ben Askren, or the VIP area of Rolling Loud Miami. Nur befriended — or at least attempted to, according to the people who spoke with Rolling Stone — influencers and the people within those social circles, making her presence among the digital culture elite more normalized. 

In interviews with Rolling Stone, seven influencers and other people who met Nur tell a similar story:…

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