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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.

Emma Fiala



(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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Italian Police Use Lamborghini for Urgent 300-Mile Kidney Delivery in Just Two Hours

Elias Marat



While Lamborghinis are typically thought of as luxury sports cars that are only affordable to the wealthy, in their home country of Italy they have long been a part of the Italian police fleet.

And while these dreamy cars may seem a bit excessive, the car was perfectly suited for a specialized task that your typical “black and white” is hardly cut out for: delivering a donor kidney overs 300 miles away in only two hours.

Earlier this month, the Italian national police posted a video on Twitter showing a police-issued Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 being deployed on a life-or-death mission to transport the vital organ from the Policlinico Universitario hospital in the Northern Italian city Padua to the Gemelli hospital in Rome.

During the journey, the Lambo soared over a distance of 500 kilometers – or about 310 miles – in just about two hours. At an average speed of 143 miles, the specialty cop car managed to trim a typically six-hour ride down to one-third of its usual time.

Thanks to the Huracán having a mighty 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive – hence its designation, LP 610-4 – the officers had no trouble meeting the moment with urgency and resolve.

And given that satellite images of the starting point in the journey don’t indicate any helipad or accessible flat area close by, the Lambo seemed like a perfectly logical option.

In the video, the baby blue Lamborghini can be seen being loaded with the fragile donated organ.

The Lamborghini Huracán de la Polizia is a highly specialized vehicle that is prepared for these types of emergency medical transport tasks, and is equipped with a small refrigerated front trunk for this purpose. It also has a defibrillator in case someone requires a life-saving electric shock while suffering cardiac arrest.

Additionally, officers who pilot the vehicle are given specific training on the race track so they can master the vehicle, which – as can be seen in this case – isn’t always used to pursue criminals.

The Huracán is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds and can reach maximum speeds of about 202 mph, according to Jalopnik.

The car, which also carries out routine patrol tasks, is also fitted out with the typical gear you’ll find in a police car, including lights, a siren, a police computer, and dash cameras.

In the tweet, the Italian Police humbly claim: “‘To save a life you don’t need superpowers,’ – solidarity, technology and efficiency also help.”

However, it remains arguable whether one could claim that a Lamborghini Huracán isn’t a superpower in its own right.

It’s not the only Lamborghini in the national police fleet, either. According to The Drive, the Huracán LP 610-4 was added to the force in 2017 as a replacement for a Lamborghini Gallardo that was decommissioned.

The car, which was the second Huracán used by Italian police, was even delivered to the police personally by Lamborghini’s CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“The new Lamborghini Huracán stands for Italian super sports car excellence and we are proud to provide it to the Italian State Police,” outgoing CEO Stephan Winklemann announced prior to the delivery.

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Skateboarding Viral Star Nathan ‘Doggface’ Apodaca Buys New Home For His Family in Cash

Elias Marat



For many of us, 2020 has been one of the roughest and most disruptive years of our lives.

That definitely isn’t the case for Nathan Apodaca, also known as Doggface, whose fortunes saw a sharp turnaround earlier this year when a TikTok video of him skating to work while drinking cranberry juice and lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 classic “Dreams” went viral.

And now, the charismatic viral video star can finally call himself a homeowner.

Apodaca, 37, had been living in a mobile home before purchasing the home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The home has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, and was purchased entirely with $320,000 in cash, reports TMZ.

The viral sensation, who is of Mexican and Northern Arapaho Native American descent, had long been a staple on social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, where he could be seen dancing, skating, and pop-locking to old-school tunes while wearing a big smile on his face.

His positive attitude and optimism never wavered even when he was living in an RV without running water that was parked outside his brother’s home. Apodaca earned his living working as a manual laborer at a potato warehouse, where he was employed alongside his father.

“We’ve been working ever since the pandemic, getting potatoes out to whoever needs them,” Apodaca told Los Angeles Times.

In late September, however, Doggface broke beyond his dedicated fanbase on Instagram pages like Foos Gone Wild and reached mainstream fame when his car broke down on the way to work and he decided to film himself happily lip-syncing to the Fleetwood Mac hit while sipping Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice straight from the bottle.

The video immediately went viral and spread across the internet, gaining 11.5 million likes on TikTok and innumerable likes and comments in all other corners of the internet.

The video even spiked interest in Fleetwood Mac, with streams of “Dreams” quickly catapulting the song to the top of iTunes charts as new generations got hooked on the song.

Soon enough, even Fleetwood Mac band members Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks released their own versions of the viral video.

When people discovered the details behind the video, and Apodaca’s working-class struggles, donations began pouring in from various quarters – including from Ocean Spray, which rewarded him with a brand-new pickup truck.

He also got some much-needed work on his recognizable smile, receiving new sets of veneers on his top and bottom rows of teeth while on a trip to L.A. earlier this month.

Apodaca has also appeared alongside a range of celebrities, including Cheech and Chong and Snoop Dogg – the cousin of late hip-hop artist Nate Dogg, who inspired the name “Dogg Face.”

Since going viral, Apodaca also has a following of more than 3 million fans on Instagram and 5.8 million on TikTok.

He’s also raking in money after purchasing an embroidery machine to sell shirts and beanies from his online store, including ones that feature the nickname, “Doggface,” and some of his catchphrases like “DOWN FOO!” and “420 SOULJAZ.”

However, his most special moment came this month after he proposed to his girlfriend Estela Chavez in Las Vegas while on a trip to Nobu Hotel in Caesar’s Palace.

The new family will bring together the couple, as well as Doggface’s daughters Angelica and Makyla – who turned him on to dancing on TikTok and Instagram.

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NYC to Experiment Responding to Some Calls With Mental Health Workers Instead of Police




On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new pilot program that will send mental health and crisis workers instead of police on emergency mental health calls. 

The program is expected to begin in February and will be composed of new mental health teams from the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services unit and will target two “high-need” neighborhoods, according to Reuters.

“For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that the professionals on call for mental health crises would be equipped to handle suicide attempts, drug abuse, and physical problems that are often indicators of mental health problems, all situations that police would typically respond to.

The mental health responders will be accompanied by a police officer if there is a weapon involved or “imminent risk of harm,” the statement said.

Even the most simple police encounters can be very stressful, which often makes it difficult to communicate properly. This tends to escalate the situation, considering that most police demand nothing short of complete obedience, even if they are dealing with someone who is not a suspect in a crime.

This can be scary for most people, but for someone who suffers from a mental illness and may already have challenges with communication, these types of encounters can be especially terrifying. Sadly, police across the country have repeatedly proven that they do not have the proper attitude or social skills to deal with mentally ill people. This is extremely obvious when police are called to do a “welfare check” on someone who is struggling with mental illness, only to shoot and kill the person because they didn’t “follow orders” to the officer’s liking.

A 2017 report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics used self-report survey data from inmates and found that at least 37% of prisoners and 44% of jail inmates had a history of mental health problems. A large portion of these people were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes or offenses associated with homelessness or poverty.

Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than the average person. According to the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.

Some US cities have already begun experimenting with sending mental health professionals out to deal with certain issues, most notably, Eugene, Oregon, which has been operational for the past 30 years. The program, called, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS), began in Oregon, but is now currently operational in at least 8 US cities. It was estimated that the city of Eugene diverted 17% of 130,000 calls through the CAHOOTS program in 2017 alone. The program is also running in Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Denver, Vancouver, and Portland.

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