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How beauty filters took over social media

How beauty filters took over social media

Thousands of distortion filters are available on major social platforms, with names like La Belle, Natural Beauty and Boss Babe. Snapchat’s sweet Big Mouth, one of the most popular social media filters, is also made with distortion effects.

In October 2019, Facebook banned the distortion effects because of a “public debate about the potential negative impact”. Awareness of body dysmorphia was increasing, and it was called a filter FixMe, which allowed users to mark their face with a cosmetic surgeon, sparked a lot of criticism for promoting plastic surgery. But in August 2020, the effects were re-released with a new policy that banned filters that explicitly promoted surgery. However, effects that change the size of facial features are supported. (When asked about the decision, a spokesperson directed me Facebook hourly press release.)

When the effects were re-released, Rocha decided to take a stand and began to condemn the body for embarrassment on the net. She pledged to stop using deformation effects unless they were more humorous or dramatic than beauty, and said she didn’t want to be “responsible” for the harmful effects some filters had on women: some felt they had studied surgery to give them their filtered appearance. plastic.

“I’d rather carry the filter right now”

Krista Crotty is a specialist in an educational clinic at the Emily Program, the leading center for eating disorders and mental health in St. Paul, Minnesota. Much of the work done over the past five years has been to educate patients about how to consume the media in a healthier way. He sees anxiety increase when patients are presented differently and face-to-face differently. “People put information about themselves (size, shape, weight, whatever), that’s not what they really look like,” he says. “There is a lot of anxiety between the real self and the digital self, because it wasn’t what it really was. They don’t look like filtered photos. ‘

“There’s a kind of validation when you’re meeting that standard, even if it’s just for a photo.”

For young people who are still wondering who they are, navigating between the digital and the real self can be particularly complicated, and it’s not clear what the long-term consequences will be.

“Identity is almost a kind of artifact online,” says Claire Pescott, a researcher at the University of South Wales. “It’s kind of a projected image of yourself.”

Pescott’s observations around children have concluded that filters can have a positive effect on them. “They can test different people,” he explains. They have these “momentary” identities that they can “change,” and they can evolve with different groups. “

Screenshot from Instagram Effects gallery. These are some of the best filters in the “selfies” category.

But he questions whether all young people are able to understand how filters affect their sense of self. And he is concerned with the way social media platforms provide immediate validation and feedback in the form of likes and comments. Young girls, in their opinion, have special difficulties in distinguishing between filtered and conventional photos.

Pescott’s research he also revealed that while children are often taught about behavior today, they receive “very little education” about filters. Their safety training was “related to the obvious physical risks of social media, not the more emotional and nuanced aspect of social media,” he says, “which I think is more dangerous.”

We will be able to get to know some of these emotional strangers that Bailenson expects with established VR research. In virtual environments, people’s behavior varies with the physical characteristics of their avatar, which is called a phenomenon Proteus effect. Bailenson found, for example, that people with higher avatars behaved more confidently than those with shorter avatars. “We know that self-representations, when used in meaningful ways in social interactions, change our attitudes and behaviors,” he says.

But sometimes these actions can play into stereotypes. A well-known 1988 study athletes wearing black uniforms were found to be more aggressive and violent than those wearing white uniforms while doing sports. And this returns to the digital world: a recent study showed that video game players who used sex avatars acted in a way that was gender stereotyped.

Bailenson says we should see similar behavior on social media, where people wear masks based on filtered versions of their faces, rather than completely different characters. “The world of filtered videos, I think — and we haven’t tested it yet — will behave like the world of filter avatars,” he says.

Selfie regulation

Given the strength and breadth of filters, there is very little research on their impact, let alone their use.

I asked Bailenson, the father of two young girls, how his daughter thinks about the use of AR filters. “It’s really hard,” he says, “it goes against everything we are taught in all of our basic cartoons, which is,“ Be yourself. ”

Bailenson says that playful use is different from real-time and constant growth of ourselves, and it’s important to understand what these different contexts mean to children.

“Even though we know it’s not real … We still want to look at it.”

There are few regulations and restrictions on the use of filters that companies have confidence in themselves to control the police. Facebook filters, for example, need to go through the approval process, according to the spokesperson, which “uses a combination of human and automated systems to review the effects sent for publication.” Some issues are examined, such as hate speech or nudity, and users are also able to report filters, which can then be reviewed manually.

The company said it regularly consults with expert groups such as the National Association of Eating Disorders and the JED Foundation on non-profit mental health.

“We know that people can be pressured to look at social media in a certain way, and we’re taking steps to address that across Instagram and Facebook,” Instagram said. “We know the effects can play a role, so we’re banning eating disorders that encourage clearly dangerous cosmetic surgery procedures … And we’re working on more products to help reduce the pressure people can have on our platforms to hide as accounts.”

Facebook and Snapchat tag filtered photos to show that they’ve been transformed, but it’s easy to move around tags by applying changes outside of apps or by downloading and reloading a filtered photo.

Labeling may be important, but Pescott says he doesn’t think it will significantly improve a culture of unhealthy beauty online.

“I don’t know if the difference would be huge, I think we’re seeing it, even though we know it’s not real. We still want to look at it that way,” he says. Instead, he believes that the images that children are exposed to should be more diverse, more authentic, and less filtered.

There is also another concern, mainly because most users are very young: the amount of biometric data that TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook have collected through these filters. Even though Facebook and Snapchat say they don’t use filtering technology to collect personally identifiable data, a review of their privacy policies shows that they have the right to store data on photos and videos on platforms. Snapchat’s policy says that photos and chats are deleted from its servers after messages are opened or expired, but stories are stored longer. Instagram stores photo and video data for as long as it wants or until the account is deleted; Instagram also collects data about what users see through the camera.

Meanwhile, these companies continue to concentrate on AR. Speaking to investors in February 2021, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel said “our camera is already capable of doing extraordinary things. But it’s an augmented reality that drives our future,” and the company is “doubling” augmented reality by 2021, calling technology “usability”.

Although Facebook and Snapchat say that face detection systems behind filters don’t connect with users ’identities, it’s a good idea to remember Facebook’s smart photo tagging feature, look at your photos, and try to identify people who might be in them. —It was one of the oldest large-scale commercial uses of facial recognition. And TikTok recently $ 92 million was paid he complained in the lawsuit that the company was misusing facial recognition to target ads. A spokesman for Snapchat said, “Snap’s Lens product does not collect personally identifiable information about a user and we cannot use it to link to or identify individuals.”

And Facebook in particular sees face recognition as part of its AR strategy. January 2021 blog post Entitled “Without Looking Back,” Facebook Reality Labs chief Andrew Bosworth wrote, “These are early times, but we plan to give creators more and more capabilities to do in AR.” The company is expected to release the planned AR glasses, and it is already teased use facial knowledge as part of the product.

Considering all the effort she puts into navigating this complex world, Sophia and Veronica say they would like to be better educated around beauty filters. Apart from parents, no one has ever helped everyone make sense. “You shouldn’t have to get a specific college degree to guess that something can be healthy for you,” says Veronica.

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