James Ellis Is Blowing Up on Facebook! Wait, Who Is This Dude?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 22 2014 12:33 PM

James Ellis Is Blowing Up on Facebook! Wait, Who Is This Dude?

"James Ellis was transformed from a skinny 135 pound high school nerd to 195 pounds of rippling muscle and a body of steel."

Image from Facebook.

We’re all vaguely aware that Facebook’s algorithms are working behind the scenes to select what we see in our news feeds. It’s not a perfect system, but basically, when photos of a friend you haven’t talked to in years start popping up everywhere (she got a new pet hedgehog!) it’s not completely random.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

If you’ve been seeing videos lately shared by one James Ellis, though, that's a little weirder.


Ellis is a fitness model, actor, and generally very in shape person. According to his Facebook page, he's 5-foot-11, weighs 185 pounds, enjoys outdoor sports, and is a “follower of JESUS CHRIST.” He won the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion show in 2011 and really likes Greek yogurt. Cool, but who is he? Why is he showing up everywhere?

It’s unclear. Ellis has almost 1.4 million Facebook followers, and the videos he posts daily (“On this page you can expect to see a ton of posts each day in the form of text, photos, & video”) get hundreds or thousands of shares. More and more people seem to be noticing his videos popping up in their feeds, even though they've never heard of him and don't like his page. Every few months he uploads a video to his YouTube channel featuring himself, and they have views in the thousands, but nothing like the exposure he’s getting on Facebook.

The videos he plugs are generic Web-friendly clips with descriptions like “Testing the reflexes of seven kittens..,” “Can't stop laughing at this little dude’s reaction to his mom blowing her nose..,” or “I would do this.. Goats, just enjoying life..” They're not usually fitness videos and they almost always come with the disclaimer “**** VIDEO FOUND ONLINE. All credits to video owner.” So basically he’s using other people’s content to build his brand.

The posts almost all have those weird double periods, which might just be the way Ellis types. But it could also be that there’s some auto-post feature set up for his public wall. Maybe he’s getting paid to circulate these videos. He didn’t respond to my request for comment.

Facebook hasn’t commented on Ellis’ sudden prominence, either, but if it does, I’ll update here. Apparently Ellis just shot two episodes of Days of Our Lives, so you can see him there. Oh, and it's also his birthday today. In the words of one commenter, “Happy Birthday you Beast!” Maybe he’ll get to celebrate with some takedown notices for sharing other people’s protected videos.

A Facebook demigod.

Screencap from JamesEllisFit.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Americans' Inexplicable Aversion to the 1990s
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.