Illusion of the Mansion Covers the Real Identity

When the topic of voices on social media comes up, I consider a case study on the ACE Family that has been mentioned on the TMG (Tiny Meat Gang) Studio Podcast, one of my favourite podcasts currently.

Ep. 211: Offending Megan Thee Stallion episode, produced by the Tiny Meat Gang Podcast.

From this case study, I argue that users on online platforms have the right to learn about their creators’ true selves from credible sources and use critical judgment about the story being told by the creator. I will discuss how the ACE Family manipulated their fans through John Suler’s dissociative anonymity in cyberspace, and Marwick’s and Lewis’ Strategic Amplification and Framing to further their fandom on various platforms.

The ACE Family is a vlog-style YouTube account, run by Austin and Catherine McBroom, since 2016 with over 18 million subscribers (Cheong & Reynolds, 2022). One of the conversations about them is their loss of ownership to a $10.1 million mansion, located in Los Angeles back in October 2021. According to Lillian Gissen (2021), the family claimed to get tricked by a house contractor, leading to losing their mortgage to the house. The house, unfortunately, could not pass inspection since they could not get a certificate of occupancy, a required document to live in a house (Gissen, 2021). This means they do not have the legal right to live in the mansion. In May 2021, a debt-collection company gave the family 90 days to pay back $8.7 million (Cheong & Reynolds, 2022). Unable to pay, their house was listed for “pre-foreclosure” under California’s nonjudicial foreclosure law. The corporation filed the family and forced them to leave the property either voluntarily or resolve it by paying their debt. Although the family had left the property, the case is still unsolved today. I have attached a video of their mansion announcement back on September 2nd, 2019.

THE ACE FAMILY OFFICE HOUSE TOUR!!! **FINALLY**, published by the ACE family on September 2, 2019.

No one Really Knows Who They Truly Are

Of course, there was no evidence to know what was going on behind the screen about the house when they first posted the video to the public. The ACE Family uses online presence to their advantage to create their “new” identity far from the reality of all legal situations they are facing. In John Suler’s (2004) explanation of the true self in cyberspace, he describes that online is a space where the user can create their identities; however, some use it to mask their real identity (p. 321). One of the forms of disinhibition is “you don’t know me” or dissociative anonymity. It is when the audience has difficulties separating the creators’ actions or behaviours between reality and cyberspace (p. 321). The pros are that the creator gets attention from the crowd, but the cons are that the information or identity could harm others. In other words, the individual creates an identity online and does not take responsibility for harmful actions or feelings that others may get affected upon. 

The ACE Family channel creates friendly content for all ages about their lifestyle. With the disconnection that online create between themselves and their fans, the family creates a “perfect picture” family illusion on their channel. Like their mansion tour video, they can show off their mansion with crazy rooms and decorations to cover up their financial situations. With their manipulation through dissociative anonymity, the audience falsely believes and creates an unrealistic understanding of the family. For instance, young children, one of the target audiences, could create expectations of “success” in their future life through materialistic personality from the content the family creates. Who knows? 

How Well They can Put Up an Illusion

Indeed, they invested a large amount of money into creating their identity online, but the responses they received is the effect of the illusion they made. The figure attached below is some comments under the video before the legal actions had been announced.

Ccomments under the ACE Family’s mansion house tour video (2019).

Referring to Marwick and Lewis’ (2019) book, Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, they described ways media can be used to manipulate the audience, leading to misinformation. One of the methods is called “Strategic Amplification and Framing”, where media manipulators chain up the stories through their network and reach through online platforms (Marwick & Lewis, 2019, p. 38). In addition, they tend to get the stories covered by the public agenda, despite positive or negative responses, to get more popularity from the content (p. 39). 

In the ACE Family’s mansion situation, they use this framing to publicize themselves, despite whether they legally owned the property or not. The public conversation about the situation helps to publicize the creators. What does that mean? People talk and make comments about their position on social media through various platforms, including the podcast I found on the news. Whether it is positive or negative, the Family gets the credits either way. For example, they could be receiving more comments and views because of the news. From the analytics side of the creator, increasing views mean more money. 

In conclusion, The ACE Family uses the advantage of John Suler’s (2004) dissociative anonymity to draw attention to their channels in addition to Marwick’s and Lewis’ Strategic Amplification and Framing to trick their fans into believing the perfect family lifestyle they showed on social media. Even with the lawsuit going on, the ACE Family revealed on December 10, 2021, that they had bought another mansion according to the Insider (2022). Thus, there are many fans, unable to grasp the truth and fall for their identity creation. Creators are not the only ones who could apply these theories to their advantage, any individual presents online. From the case study, I hope you all find credible resources to go in-depth about the topic. Starting conversations surrounding the misinformation and inequality of voices on online presence can spread awareness and exchange knowledge in new spaces you may never know to exist.

OUR NEW HOUSE TOUR! *EXCLUSIVE*, published by the ACE Family on December 10, 2021.


Cheong, C. & Reynolds, K. P. (2022, July 12). Ace Family’s year from hell: The controversial YouTube family channel faced foreclosure, lawsuits, and widespread criticism of their latest venture. Insider. Retrieved from

Gissen, L. (2021, December 2). Popular YouTubers claim that they lost their $10 million mansion after getting scammed by ‘fake contractor who STOLE their money and left them with an unfinished house that couldn’t pass inspection’. Dailymail. Retrieved from 

Kolodziejzyk, C.M & Millers, N. (2021, November 17). Offending Megan Thee Stallion. Tiny Meat Gang Podcast. Retrieved from

Marwick, A. E., & Lewis, R. (2017). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. 

The ACE Family. (2019, September 2). THE ACE FAMILY OFFICIAL HOUSE TOUR!!! **FINALLY**. The ACE Family. Retrieved from

The ACE Family. (2019,  December 10). OUR NEW HOUSE TOUR! *EXCLUSIVE*. The ACE Family. Retrieved from, J. (2004). Psychology of Cyberspace. Psychology of cyberspace – the online disinhibition effect (p. 321-326). Retrieved from