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Authenticity and freedom with social media beauty filters

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But behind every filter is someone who drags lines and moves shapes around on the computer screen to achieve the desired look. Beauty may be subjective, but society continues to promote rigid and unattainable ideals.

Instagram publishes very little data on filters, especially beauty filters. In September 2020, Meta announced that over 600 million people have tried at least one of his AR features. The Metaverse is a much bigger concept than Meta and other companies investing in AR and VR products. Snap and TikTok have a huge number of filter users, but Snap is also investing in location-based AR. Meta’s product suite includes the Oculus headset and Ray-Ban smart glasses, but it’s the face that made Facebook so popular.

Beauty filters, especially those that dramatically alter the shape of the face and its features, are particularly popular and contested. , banned so-called transformation effects. The policy has since been updated to only ban filters that encourage plastic surgery. This policy states, “Content must not promote the use of or depict the sale of potentially dangerous cosmetic procedures, per the Facebook Community Standards. This includes the use of such procedures through surgical lines. According to an April 2021 statement to the MIT Technology Review, the policy requires a “combination of human and automated systems to review effects submitted for publication.” carried out by However, the author told me that the deformation filter is often flagged inconsistently and the exact reason driving the use of cosmetic surgery is not clear.


Many people use beauty filters just for fun and entertainment, but puppy ears are actually a huge technological feat. First, we need face detection. In this detection, algorithms interpret different shades of pixels captured by the camera to identify faces and their features. A standard facial digital mask is then applied to the image of the real face, adjusted to its shape, and the virtual jawline and nose of the mask to fit the person’s face. In that mask, the graphics developed by the coder create the effect of being displayed on the screen. In the last few years his vision of computers has enabled him to do this in real time.

Spark AR is Instagram’s software developer kit (SDK) that makes it easier for augmented reality effect creators to create and share face filters that cover their Instagram feed. I first encountered Florencia Solari, a creative AR technologist and famous creator of Instagram filters, in the deep rabbit holes of YouTube filters her demos videos. She showed me how to make a face filter that promised to plump my cheeks, fill my lips, and give me that Kardashianesque, surgically enhanced face shape.

“32% of teenage girls say they feel sick on Instagram when they feel bad about their body.”

“I have this inflatable tool and I apply it symmetrically,” Solari said. She dragged the cursor up and down the outline of her cheekbones on the digital mannequin to catch up, then right-clicked on the map of her lower lip and selected “Increase” several times to I played She soon found herself with a sloppy and simple filter, with Solari as her guide, but was able to upload it to Instagram and unleash it on the world.

Solari is part of a new class of AR and VR creators who have made a career out of mastering this technology. She started coding around the age of nine and was drawn to the creativity of virtual world development. Creating her own filters on Instagram was initially a hobby. But in 2020, Solari quit her full-time job as an AR developer at Ulta Beauty and she pursued online AR full-time as an independent consultant. She recently worked with Meta and several other big brands (which she said she could not disclose) to create branded AR web experiences for her, including filters.

Solari’s first filter, called “vette++”, went viral in September 2019. The filter applies an iridescent, slightly greenish glow to the skin, smoothing it all over and puffing it up under each eye to make it look like half a clementine has been tucked into each cheek. Lips are twice the size of his, and the face shape is adjusted so that the defined jawline tapers into a smaller chin. “It was like an alien mix, but the face looked like it was full of botox,” says Solari. “It turned out to be really sensational.”