By now, we should really all understand that Instagram is not the place to look if you want an accurate depiction of how the world is. But just because we’ve trained ourselves to spot Photoshop Fails doesn’t mean people should be getting away with them. Clearly, Instagram is aware of the problematic culture it has helped to spread, and it’s interesting to see what steps they’ve taken to combat misleading posts.
In September 2019, Jameela Jamil announced she was working with the app on new restrictions surrounding the marketing of diet-related products. The measures announced at that time included blocking weight loss posts from users under the age of 18, and a commitment to removing posts that made false or unsubstantiated claims about weight loss. At the time, I was hesitant to be too optimistic about these seemingly tough-to-implement policies, but little argument could be made that the goals of the rules weren’t important.
But now, Instagram has unveiled another feature designed to shield its users from misleading content, and I have to be honest, I don’t really get it. In the coming days and weeks, they will roll out a feature that hides photos that are deemed to be digitally altered. Flagged photos will be hidden behind a big-ass black banner, and you’ll have to tap to confirm that you still want to see the photo. Kind of like how Instagram blurs out a photo in your DMs that randos send you, to protect you from seeing an unwanted d*ck pic.
The thing is, if I have to jump through hoops to see an Instagram model’s obviously Facetuned ass pic, that’s fine. But graphic designers and digital artists are worried that the new filters will affect their work, and that’s a valid concern.
A few days ago, artist Toby Harriman posted on Facebook about the first time he came across the new restrictions on his Instagram feed. When he tapped “see post,” he was surprised to see that the image in question was this:
Now, unless this guy magically booked a ticket to Thneedville to hang out with the Lorax, this picture is obviously Photoshopped… but that’s kind of the point? While millions of people are brainwashed into thinking the Kardashians actually look like the way they appear in photos in real life, I don’t think anyone over the age of five would look at the above photo and think these rainbow mountains exist somewhere on Earth. This is just one instance of the new feature in action, and it seems like it hasn’t been rolled out to most users yet, but there is already a good bit of room for error/pissed off people.
In the last several years, Instagram has become the easiest way for artists, both traditional and of the Photoshop variety, to show their work and grow a following. Like it or not, but in 2020, growing an Instagram following is directly connected to making money, and these artists rely on Instagram to get their work out there. Personally, I follow a lot of dedicated Photoshop accounts, and they put out some of the funniest, most original content on Instagram. To pretend that a photo of Meghan and Harry Photoshopped as punk rockers is harmful in the same way as false diet claims is just dumb.
According to a blog post from Instagram last month, the way in which their new policy works is pretty complex. Through a “combination of feedback from our community and technology,” photos thought to be “false or partly false” are sent to third-party fact checkers, who make the ultimate determination about whether there is misinformation happening. Of course, all of this is vague, but Instagram does say that they will “make content from accounts that repeatedly receive these labels harder to find by removing it from Explore and hashtag pages.”
So basically, one-time offenders will get their post marked behind that big black box, but repeat offenders can be cut off from some of the main ways that accounts grow and reach new followers. Again, this is fine for all the random girls in bikinis whose asses magically warp railings, but it’s pretty sh*tty if actual artists are going to see their accounts suffer because someone doesn’t understand the joke.
Again, the new restrictions are still in the process of being implemented, and as with all of these things, I’m sure that it’s going to take time to fine-tune the algorithm or whatever to achieve the desired effect. But I would hope that Instagram and its fact checkers air on the side of leniency for now, rather than block everything that comes their way, and subsequently ruin the growth of artists and designers who rely on the app to make money. As someone who spent an hour last week photoshopping Scheana from Vanderpump Rules onto the Mona Lisa, I really don’t want the joys of Photoshop taken away from Instagram. Punish the influencers, not us humble Photoshoppers!
Images: Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash; Toby Harriman / Facebook, mixsociety, heyreilly_ / Instagram
Internet hoaxes are nothing new, and we’ve probably all fallen for a scam at one time or another. The thing is, the hoax you fell for was probably one of those chain emails in 2009 that you had to forward to 12 friends or else they would die in a fire. But you’ll be glad to know that celebrities are just like us, and they’re still falling for the same dumb hoaxes that you believe in middle school.
Most of the celebs who posted about it have since deleted their photos, because they basically look like clowns. But just as an example of what the hoax looks like, here’s what T.I. posted, and it’s still up. Personally, I don’t really care about the message, but I love the design choices that were made her. The icy blue background is chic AF, and I love how the word “Instagram” randomly gets bigger at the end of the paragraph. T.I. didn’t make this, but clearly whoever did has a passion for graphic design.
“Let this serve was formal & FINAL notice on my behalf. Thx in advance.” This sounds like one of my college professors emailing me about my late assignment, but like…it’s T.I.
Pink posted the message, and made sure to clarify in her caption that she didn’t want to offend anyone. I’m not sure who would be offended by anything about this, except maybe the fact that apparently Pink has no common sense? Idk, it’s not that serious.
I’m also a big fan of Debra Messing’s journey with the hoax. There are more plot twists here than an episode of Will & Grace, and I’m somehow just as entertained. Good to know that Debra Messing gets all her news from Snopes.
Rob Lowe, eternal heartthrob, clearly didn’t get the hoax memo, but he couldn’t just post the same one as everyone else. Instead, he posted a weirdly blurry, cropped version in which you can’t even read the whole message. Way to stick it to the man!
I love Rob’s low-key caption of “#word,” but the best part of his post were the comments from his son Johnny, who is literally me reacting to anything my parents do online:
I almost fell off my chair at “come get him.” But really, do these celebs not have experience dealing with these things? Or like, lawyers to look them over? These people have probably signed hundreds of contracts in their careers, yet they think that posting a janky screenshot on Instagram with a caption like “word” is going to hold up in court? I’ve watched enough Law & Order to know that this thing would be immediately thrown out by any legal professional.
But while dozens of famous people fell victim to the hoax, others took it as a chance to make some hilarious #content. John Mayer, who has seriously turned into a must-follow on Instagram in the last year, made it clear that he has no problem with Instagram using literally all of his sh*t.
Okay, all of these are things that I didn’t know I needed, but now I’m desperate for them. Like, how many meatloaf recipes is John Mayer hiding? What are these woke magic tricks that he mentions? John, the people need answers!!! But actually, the best part is him poking fun at everyone else acting like these screenshot text posts are legally binding, because like I said before, lol.
Ellen DeGeneres also took the hoax as an opportunity for comedy, and a little shameless self-promotion. My biggest unpopular opinion is that I think Ellen is pretty annoying, but I’m not mad at this. Everyone who got tricked by a social media hoax that probably started in 2011 deserves to get trolled, and who better to do it than Ellen and John Mayer?
Did you post this on your Instagram before realizing it was fake? If so, good for you, because now you’ll be permanently protected in a court law if someone tries to use your photos against you! But actually, you probably just shouldn’t post anything that would be evidence of you committing a crime? Just seems like the safest option to me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really need to go back to being reckless on Instagram, and I don’t care who knows.
Images: Shutterstock; troubleman31, pink, therealdebramessing, robloweofficial, johnmayer, theellenshow / Instagram