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The Nipped, Tucked, and Photoshopped Revelations of Instagram's Celebface

August 1, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Screenshot: Celebface

In 2006 Dove was on a mission to show the world “real beauty.” As part of an ongoing campaign to make women feel comfortable in their own skin, the company released an ad showing the labor-intensive process of transforming a woman into a model. In sped-up time, her fresh face gets covered in makeup, her hair is curled into perfect ringlets, and photographs are taken. The real fun begins as she is photoshopped into digital perfection: her neck becomes elongated, her face gets thinner, her eyes widen. “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted,” the ad concludes, like a somber anti-smoking PSA.

The ad went viral. At the time, consumers were starting to become more aware of how prevalent photo-editing was in both advertising and publishing. Actresses like Kate Winslet were calling out publications for over-editing their figures, women literally took to the streets to protest Ralph Lauren’s Photoshop fails, and Jezebel was posting unedited photos of Faith Hill to prove to you that women’s magazines are lying to you. And in the decades since then, corporations have belatedly jumped on Dove’s bandwagon, as more brands and magazines cynically preach body positivity, cast “real” women in campaigns, and boldly proclaim to never Photoshop. With such scrutiny, you’d think that Photoshop’s tight, marketable grip on women’s bodies has loosened.

And yet, there’s Celebface. “WELCOME TO REALITY” reads the bio of the private Instagram account. “If you don’t want to see the truth ➡ leave this page.” With over half a million followers, the account offers close, nearly obsessive dissection of the way celebrity bodies are constructed both on-screen and off. Red carpet photos of actresses are magnified to show on closer inspection that their faces are covered in caked and cracked makeup; photos of models and celebrities in and out of makeup emphasize what all the products are actually covering up. Photosets documenting the plastic surgery of celebrities, models, and influencers, offer a hypnotizing gradation of lips plumping and noses thinning, and often the person in the first and last photo are unrecognizable.

Image: Celebface/Instagram

What’s more interesting than Celebface’s deep-dives into who has been smoothed with fillers and more extensive plastic surgery is the account’s fanatical documenting of how celebs are editing and staging their own photos.

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In the past decade since consumers and celebs were protesting excessive photo-editing in glossies, that same technology is more accessible than ever. Photoshop alone costs over $200 in 2018, but apps like Facetune or AirBrush get the job done on a much cruder level in the palm of your hand for just a few dollars. And in layering original paparazzi photos with their Instagrams, Celebface often makes a .gif highlighting exactly where a photo has been manipulated: Kim Kardashian slaps on a filter but also a smaller waist, while Kendall Jenner shaves down her chin, and Naomi Campbell makes her nose just a bit tinier.

Every airbrush and digitally applied blush stroke solidifies the fact that you can be one of the most objectively pretty women in the world and still find a part of your body worth hating. The Photoshop that slivered women’s bodies into a tedious, thin ideal was once considered a symptom of sexist advertising and publishing industries that demanded protest. But on Celebface the Photoshop call is coming from inside the house and, confusingly, the women whose bodies we’re taught to covet are the ones calling.

Image: Celebface/Instagram

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The draw of Celebface is that it reveals the “reality” of celebrity in unedited form. “Your page makes me feel so much better about reality vs. media personas,” one commenter wrote on a recent post. But scrolling through the account, I’m more interested in scrutinizing the construction and end results of their fakery. There’s an uncomfortable monotony that permeates the faces and bodies of Celebface, so much so that the account often posts photos of unrelated celebrities who look identical at first glance (for example, Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry.) Much has been written about the fact that the Kardashians are increasingly cited as an inspiration for plastic surgery and you can see it on Celebface, even in the way women shape their eyebrows and wear their liquid lipstick. But this all gets more complicated when you take into account the Kardashians’s blatant and constant self-construction and self-editing. There’s a certain uncanny doubleness where women request replicas of faces created by surgery (which we might only ever see up-close in already edited photos).

Image: Celebface/Instagram

Since Instagram can embolden even the slightest dysmorphia, it’s also not surprising that a frequent focus of Celebface’s sleuthing is the newest and nebulous class of celebrity: Instagram influencers and vloggers. Looking at the account I’ll admit that many of these influencers, like Elisabeth Rioux, Kristen Hancher, and Kardashian pal Anastasia Karanikolaou, didn’t even register, but their popularity and “careers” are reliant on the creation of picture-perfect lives. Celebface doesn’t just point out the plastic surgery and photoshopping of these women but also shows how drastically different their bodies look in their posted Instagrams versus real life (“real life” meaning, of course, without the carefully curated lighting, posing, styling, contouring, and editing that makes the end result post-worthy).

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We know that the bodies of famous women like Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé or Bella Hadid are the result of work, attained through a careful, expensive regimen of dieting, exercise, professional glam sessions, or plastic surgery. But the revelation of Celebface is that the newly ordained desirable bodies that populate Instagram feeds simply don’t—and never can—exist in the real world.

It has never been easier to look slimmer, fresh-faced, younger, or bigger-breasted in self-created images. As the possibilities for what digital bodies can and should look like expand and increase, so can insecurities. When every leg is a few photoshopped inches away, and waists can be cinched with an app, it feels like we’re supposed to be lusting after the bodies of digital avatars rather than real people. No matter how much botox they’ve had, or how much money they’re paid to wear designer clothes, the women featured on Celebface can ultimately only exist in the frame of a screen, where perfect bodies can be digitally rendered even more perfect.

Tech News

Instagram adds status markers to your DM list

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Instagram

Instagram started telling you when your friends were active in the direct message list last January. Now the photo-centric social network is expanding the feature with a new green dot to indicate who is online and active.

You’ll be able to see the green dot in your direct message inbox as well as your friend list when you share a post from your feed. You’ll only see the status indicator for friends who follow you, or people you’ve already exchanged direct messages with. Just like before, you can turn this off (and hide your own status) in your Instagram settings.

Tech News

Facebook will begin actively enforcing its age policy

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Facebook is tweaking its policies towards underage users, TechCrunch reports, and it will begin requiring those suspected of being younger than 13 years old to provide proof of their age. The move comes after a report from the UK’s Channel 4, in which an undercover journalist began working as a Facebook content reviewer. Though Facebook and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years of age — in order to comply with the US Child Online Privacy Protection Act — the report revealed that in practice, those rules were often ignored. “We have to have an admission that the person is underage,” a trainer told the reporter. “If not, we just pretend that we are blind and that we don’t know what underage looks like.”

But going forward, that hands-off approach will be replaced by a more proactive policy. Previously, reviewers would only look into the age of a user if their account was specifically reported as being from someone who might be underage. But now, reviewers will lock the accounts of those suspected of being underage anytime their accounts are noted for review, regardless of the reason why. In a blog post, Facebook said, “Since the program, we have been working to update the guidance for reviewers to put a hold on any account they encounter if they have a strong indication it is underage, even if the report was for something else.” And locked accounts can only be unlocked if users prove they’re at least 13 years old, with a government issued ID, for example.

While young children aren’t allowed to have Facebook and Instagram accounts, at least in theory, the company has been working to draw in younger users with its Messenger Kids app. The kid-only messaging app continues to expand to more devices and more countries despite some outcry from those concerned about exposing young children to social media and overuse of digital technology.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that interest in Facebook seems to be declining among younger populations while Instagram use is growing.

Tech News

Instagram test lets public accounts remove followers

July 17, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

You’ve long had the option to remove Instagram followers if you keep your account private, but that’s something of a compromise. Why do you have to shut yourself off from the outside world just to keep out a few undesirables? You might not have to make that choice going forward. Instagram has confirmed that it’s testing an option to remove followers while maintaining a public account. While it hasn’t share more details than that, the app informs testers that it won’t notify soon-to-be-former followers that you’re leaving them behind. Much as with other social networks, that’s likely to minimize outrage from people who can’t handle the rejection.

It’s easy to see why you’d want the option with a public account. You may not want an ex or former friend commenting on everything you do, for instance. And if you’ve ever seen the creeps that tend to post leering comments on women’s Instagram selfies… you get the idea. This won’t prevent sketchier types from viewing your feed, but it will relegate them to passive observers.

Instagram has been expanding your control over its experience lately, including choices to mute people you follow and an experimental ‘do not disturb’ feature. While they cover a range of subjects, the theme appears to be the same: Instagram wants to eliminate the content that might drive you away, whether it’s harassment or too-frequent notifications. Instagram is now a mature social network with over a billion users, and it’s just as important for the Facebook-owned service to keep users as it is to reel them in.

Tech News

Instagram's latest Story sticker is for Q&A

July 10, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Instagram’s Stories now involve much more two-way interaction than simple polls. True to recent leaks, both Android and iOS users can use a Questions sticker that (surprise) lets you ask followers for feedback. They can answer as many times as they like, and all your responses will live in your viewers list for a given story. You can share responses with the public, but Instagram will hide usernames and profile photos to prevent naming and shaming.

The feature should be available today.

It’s an appealing addition if you often want to hear back from your Instagram audience. And for Instagram, the appeal is self-evident: it encourages Story creators to post more often knowing they’ll get responses, while viewers may be more likely to watch knowing they can make their voices heard. This also gives Instagram an edge over its archrival Snapchat. You may be more likely to switch services if you know you can be more than a passive viewer.

Tech News

Jaden Smith's latest album is only available on Instagram

July 9, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

Whatever you think of Jaden Smith’s music, you have to give him credit for finding new ways to capture listeners’ attention. The budding rapper has debuted SYRE: The Electric Album, a reinterpretation of his album from last year, solely though Instagram — as of this writing, you can’t go to your favorite streaming music service to check it out. The format is a gimmick, of course, but it also lets the young star sell his work (his profile now looks like a giant SYRE ad) and find out how many plays he’s getting with each track.

We wouldn’t expect too many musicians to go this route, for obvious reasons — Smith isn’t making money on these plays. It does show how artists (especially young ones like Smith) are adapting to the Instagram era, however, and suggests that stars could make a habit of delivering minor, no-risk albums this way (such as alternate takes or mixtapes). If you’re not expecting to make money on an album, why not make it freely available where your fans are most likely to see it?

B ELECTRIC

A post shared by Jaden Smith (@c.syresmith) on Jul 8, 2018 at 4:24pm PDT

Tech News

Facebook and Instagram test a 'do not disturb' feature

July 2, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Thomas White / Reuters

Instagram and Facebook are both testing Do Not Disturb features, TechCrunch reports, meaning users could soon have more control over when they receive notifications from either app. WhatsApp Beta and Matt Navarra first spotted the features. Some Engadget staff have also noticed the Do Not Disturb feature on their Facebook apps and it allows you to activate the feature for a certain time frame or until you decide to turn it off. The features come as both Google and Apple have announced their operating systems will soon give users Do Not Disturb options. In May, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom tweeted that usage stats were also in the works. “We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional,” he wrote.

It appears as an option in a few places on Facebook pic.twitter.com/15eY1fuB1g

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) July 1, 2018

Instagram will soon have a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option for push notifications

Image: @WABetaInfo pic.twitter.com/6ii8vkWKxl

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 28, 2018

Additionally, Instagram announced its “You’re All Caught Up” feature today. Once you’ve scrolled through your feed and and seen every post published over the last two days, you’ll get a message saying so. You can then scroll past that message to see older posts and those you’ve already viewed. “We’ve heard that it can be difficult to keep track of your seen posts,” Instagram said today. “With this message, you’ll have a better understanding of your feed and know you haven’t missed recent photos or videos.” It’s rolling out now to both iOS and Android.

Image: Instagram

Tech News

Instagram may let you ask questions in Stories

July 1, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Android Police

You can already run polls in your Instagram Stories, but what if you’d like your feedback to be a little more verbose? You might get that wish. A tipster for Android Police has shared what looks to be a test for a questions feature in Stories — add it to your creation and your friends can type their own answers, which you’ll see listed by user. We’ve asked Instagram if it can confirm details, but the rollout doesn’t appear to be too region-specific. You’re looking at an Indonesian user’s screen above, while Italians have also reported seeing the option.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the feature rolls out soon. Instagram has been on a tear lately, introducing everything from IGTV to group video chat and Story soundtracks. This might be one of the more modest changes in the past few weeks. The addition would speak volumes about Instagram’s larger too. It’s already betting that interactive Stories will help keep users hooked, and this is a logical extension of that strategy.

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Instagram now lets you add a soundtrack to your Stories

June 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Instagram

As was rumored in May, Instagram is now letting users add soundtracks to their Stories. Attaching music is as easy as adding a sticker, and folks can choose a backing track to their Stories before or after recording video. When anyone watches them, they’ll hear the song playing and see a sticker showing its title and artist name to discover exactly what they’re jamming to.

Selecting a soundtrack to a Story seems easy enough: When tapping to add a sticker to a photo or video, a music icon will pop up. Tap that to bring up a library to search for the perfect song or browse by mood, genre or popularity. Tracks can be previewed before they’re added; Once chosen, you can fast forward or rewind so the tune starts at the moment you choose. Per Instagram’s post, there are thousands of songs to select from with more added every day.

Tipsters Ishan Agarwal and Jane Manchun Wong tipped TechCrunch off to a potential music-adding feature hidden in the code of Instagram’s Android version. Combine with Facebook’s licensing deals with Sony, Warner Music, Universal and European publishers, it seemed the company was poised to make a move integrating music into its flagship platform and/or Instagram.

You’ll need the latest Instagram version (51) to add music to Stories, and it’s currently only available in select countries. For now, choosing a song before starting a video is available on iOS only, with Android soon to come.

Tech News

Instagram Lite quietly goes live on Google Play

June 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Instagram

Instagram has followed in its parent company’s footsteps and launched a lightweight version of its app on Google Play. Like its Facebook and Messenger counterparts, Instagram Lite was created for users in developing nations. Since it’s only 573 kilobytes instead of 32MB like the main app, even those with older phones or devices with small storage on the lower-end of the pricing spectrum can use it. The application’s smaller size also makes it possible for people who only have access to slow or intermittent internet connection to download it from Google Play.

The photocentric social network has quietly slipped the new Lite application into Google Play without so much as an announcement. Probably because it’s not quite available to a lot of people yet — a spokesperson told TechCrunch that Instagram has only started testing Lite in Mexico this week: “We are testing a new version of Instagram for Android that takes up less space on your device, uses less data, and starts faster,” he said in a statement.

While the stripped-down version of the app allows users to upload and view photos and Stories, as well as to use the Explore tab, it still lacks some key features. Users can’t share videos through it, which makes sense, because it was created specifically for those who might only have access to slow internet connection. The app also lacks direct messaging, most likely to save on storage space. Instagram might or might not reassess the lack of those features, depending on its trial’s results — it also remains to be seen whether it will release the app in its home country to provide US-based users a non-bloated option like Facebook did.