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Instagram Bans Augmented Reality Plastic Surgery Filters

Patients are literally bringing selfies altered with Snapchat and Instagram filters to plastic surgeons.



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(TMU) — Last week, Spark AR, the company behind Instagram’s augmented reality (AR) filters, issued an important announcement on Facebook that may change the face of social media image filters for the better.

Most social media users are well aware of the flurry of video and image filters available to anyone and everyone. From simple film grain and trippy colors to actual features that certainly don’t belong to humans, with the tap of a button you can do a lot to a very normal, regular human face.

But with the advent of these generally fun photo filters and social media in genera came a darker phenomenon than an innocent pair of puppy dog ears.

According to research, social media use, photo filter or not, has been linked to low self-esteem and an increase in the acceptance of cosmetic surgery. The number of facelifts occurring in the United States increased by a shocking 21.8% between 2013 and 2018 and it rose another 21.9% in the 12 months leading up to March 2018, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. That’s a big deal. During this time, breast lifts also increased with the most shocking rise of 57.5% happening between 2013 and 2018.

While these numbers don’t show us the cause of the increase, assuming that social media has something to do with it probably isn’t too far fetched of an idea.

In what some may see as an attempt to avoid surgery, Instagram’s Effect gallery provides users with a host of face filters that leave you looking more like a picture perfect magazine model than an actual human. But overuse of these filters that exaggerate your lips, narrow your schnoz, lift your cheekbones and make you look like literally every other person using the same filter leaves some users increasingly disappointed with their actual face.

That disappointment has led some people to undergo what is sometimes referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia.”

Patients are literally bringing selfies altered with Snapchat and Instagram filters to plastic surgeons requesting to look more like the image in their hand. The problem is so prevalent that researchers at the Boston medical center went so far as to author an article on the phenomenon in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. According to the article, the phenomenon referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia” is having a significant and harmful impact on self-esteem.

The report goes on to explain that in some social media users, the filters trigger a body dysmorphic disorder. Body dysmorphia leads to compulsive tendencies that often include obsessing over minor of non-existence flaws and leads to a withdrawal from social activities.

A significant concern of doctors is that these social media filters aren’t simply providing the viewer with instances of ideal beauty standards, they are instead unhuman features. According to the report, these features are “unattainable” and blur “the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.”

The trend is particularly concerning to doctors because filters on Snapchat provide not just idealistic standards of beauty but entirely unhuman ones, presenting “an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients”, according to the report.

I tried a few AR filters myself to see the specific ways in which it would change my face. The most altered image of all only looks vaguely familiar and is unsettling, to say the least.

Sure, who doesn’t like a little skin smoothing every once in a while, especially for someone like myself who doesn’t wear makeup and takes a selfie in a dim room up against a door but with this example it is easy to see that repeated exposure to viewing oneself with even subtle tweaks like softer, smoother skin, larger eyes, and a smaller nose may lead one to become increasingly more discontent with their own face when viewed in a mirror.

And as it turns out, selfies without filters already tend to look pretty strange to the viewer when compared to what we see in a mirror. This phenomenon is strange enough in itself when unpacked. Our mirror image, which we are most familiar with, is actually the reverse of what the world, including front facing cameras, sees. Thanks to mirrors, we are actually most familiar with an inaccurate image of ourselves. Throw in minor distortion due to camera lenses and distance from the camera and selfies are already rife enough with weirdness without the filters. Perhaps this phenomenon is why so many fingers reach for the filter button in the first place.

Clearly this AR filter drama isn’t overly positive and is causing a host of problems of which we may not fully grasp the consequences. Spark AR contends that they want their AR effects to be “a positive experience” and so they are “re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being.” The company will be removing all effects reminiscent of plastic surgery from the the Effect Gallery and will postpone approval of new plastic surgery type filters. 

Unfortunately, this announcement may be too little too late as the massive increase in plastic surgery is already here and there are numerous other apps on the market that will fine tune one’s face to look more and more cartoonish and less and less human.

Hopefully this announcement and additional research on the topic will lead to widespread action on what seems to be a very big problem, especially considering how many more children are using smart phones, apps, and social media than ever before.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons |

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Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces



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Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.

And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.

The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.

The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.

At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.

When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.

Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.

The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.

The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.

“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.

“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.

His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.

Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.

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Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber



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An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.

In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.

“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”

As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.

Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.

“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.

Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.

So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.

“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”

As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.

Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.

“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”

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Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family



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Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.

“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.

Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.

Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.

“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.

“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”

The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.

The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.

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