Posts tagged with "Instagram"

Parallel universes: Dems raising $75 million to go head-to-head with GOP on social media

November 5, 2019

Two can play that game: A progressive organization called Acronym is plunging into the presidential campaign—revealing plans to spend $75 million on digital advertising that will be used to counterbalance and neutralize President Donald Trump’s early spending advantage in key 2020 battleground states, The New York Times reported on November 4.

And such a rampart may well be needed: Trump has spent more than $26 million so far nationally just on Facebook and Google, the news outlet says. That’s more than the four top-polling Democrats—Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg—have spent in total on those platforms.

Since its creation as a nonprofit group dedicated to building power and digital infrastructure for the progressive movement in March 2017, Acronym claims to have “run dozens of targeted media programs to educate, inspire, register, and mobilize voters,” as well as to have “worked with dozens of partners to accelerate their advocacy programs and investments.”

In the 2018 cycle, Acronym developed new digital tools and strategies to encourage voters to register to vote and show up at the polls on Election Day. Through these programs, Acronym and its affiliated political action committee, Pacronym, claim to have helped elect 65 progressive candidates across the country.

Photo source: AcronymAnd in January 2019, the group launched Shadow, a technology company focused on building accessible, user-centered products to enable progressive organizers to run smarter campaigns

Political organizers and pundits agree that such an effort is necessary. “The gun on this general election does not start when we have a nominee; it started months ago,” said David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and was a key adviser to him in 2012, and who recently joined Acronym’s board. ”If the things that need to happen don’t happen in these battleground states between now and May or June, our nominee will never have time to catch up.“

In an interview with the Times, Plouffe and Tara McGowan, the founder and chief executive of Acronym, said their digital campaign would kick off immediately, with a heavy focus on shaping how the public views Trump and the Democratic Party during the primary season, well before a nominee emerges.

“Our nominee is going to be broke, tired, have to pull together the party; and turn around on a dime and run a completely different race for a completely different audience,” Plouffe said.

“There is an enormous amount of danger between now and then,” he added. “If the hole is too steep to dig out of, they’re not going to win.”

The campaign, which the organization is calling “Four is Enough,” will focus initially on key swing states: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. One state that is historically a battleground was notably missing from the initial list: Florida.

The effort will feature advertisements across multiple digital platforms, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Hulu, and Pandora. There will be original content, such as videos and animations, as well as boosting local news coverage that portrays Trump, his administration,and his agenda in a harsh light.

McGowan told the news outlet that for months her group had been raising the alarm about the president’s early online spending advantage.

“It started to feel as though we were really screaming into the abyss,” she said. So

McGowan told the Times that the group had already raised approximately 40% of the planned $75 million budget. She noted that Plouffe has joined as both a political adviser and to help raise funds. The spending will be made across two groups, Acronym, which is a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors, and Pacronym, a political action committee, which does. (The group’s winking moniker is a poke at the frequent practice of settling on a meaningful series of words to form an acronym for a nonprofit; they have skipped that alphabet-soup step entirely.)

“We’re absolutely, as a party, not doing enough and I don’t know that $75 million is enough,” McGowan said. “We can’t afford to not do this work right now.” Of the fact that some of her group’s donors would remain undisclosed, she said, “We have to play on the field that exists,” noting that Trump is aided by such funds, as well.

Research contact: @nytimes

Pleasingly plump hands are being celebrated by a new social media movement

October 18, 2019

There’s a new kind of “digital revolution” going on—an online celebration of “diverse fingers and hands.”

Model and plus-size fashion expert Maxey Greene uses Instagram to connect with her followers—reaching out for wisdom on fashion, culture, relationships, how they feel about their bodies, the list goes on. But, as HuffPost tells the story, she wasn’t using it for that recently when she posted a photo of her manicure. At least she didn’t think she was. Then the DMs started.

“In tiny font in the corner of the image, I mentioned how I never see fingers that look like mine,” she said of the photo she told the news outlet about the photo she posted. “About two seconds after posting it, a woman sent a photo reply of her chubby fingers and said ‘chubby hands for life!’ After that they just started pouring in.”

Fingers that look like hers, or fingers that are not extremely thin, aren’t represented in jewelry and engagement ring advertisements.  “I think a lot of women instantly felt seen,” Greene said.

The inherent message that the lack of hand diversity sends stems from a larger systematic issue that love, like high fashion, is seen as only being reserved for people who look a certain way. Photos of rings might seem like a small thing, but it plays to that same old trope, Greene explained to HuffPost.

“I think not seeing chubby fingers with rings, specifically engagement rings may stem from the mentality that ‘fat women can’t find love’ or don’t deserve it—n idea that’s been ingrained in our heads for years,” she said. “But it’s just not true! Advertising should reflect that. We’ve got plus-size dollars to spend!”

“Someone told me a story about how when they posted a picture of their engagement announcement on Facebook, she was made fun of for the ring being too small on her and that it didn’t look good on her finger,” she said. “It did fit her, that’s just the way chubby fingers look in rings. She was mortified and it turned a happy moment into an insecure one. It devastated me to read that.”

It’s a small movement just in its early stages, but it sends a clear message to the engagement ring industry—and the ring industry in general—that it’s time for a change. Inspired by the people who reached out with their stories, Greene started an Instagram account called @allhandsaregoodhands, where people can look for inspiration and to see what rings look like on hands that more closely resemble their own.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Cheap thrills: Dollar General’s new $5 beauty brand is going viral

September 10, 2019

Fashionistas, take note: There’s a new brand in the beauty business—and it’s not sold at swanky cosmetics counters for big bucks, or at drugstores, either.

Launched last spring, Dollar General’s humble, $5-and-under Believe Beauty cosmetics line is available at the chain’s 15,000 locations nationwide—and it has gone viral, thanks to the raves of social media beauty bloggers.

According to a report by CNN, Dollar General partnered with a beauty manufacturer on the private-label line of lipsticks, eye shadows, foundations, nail polishes, and skin care essentials; and is giving it prime real estate at stores: It’s displaying the 150-product collection in dedicated sections at the end of store aisles, making it easy for customers to find.

The aspirational brand is “an important part of our strategy,” CEO Todd Vasos told the network news outlet.

Dollar General executives say they developed the brand to bolster the company’s hold on existing customers and improve its thin profit margins. Dollar General also hopes to draw Millennials with the brand. Millennials probably won’t post online about snacks or a new mop they bought at Dollar General, but they love showing off their new makeup online, CNN notes.

Dozens of Believe reviews on by beauty vloggers on YouTube already have racked up hundreds of thousands of page views. One 16-minute YouTube review from a beauty vlogger has 125,000 views. Instagram is flooded with more than 3,000 posts using “#believebeauty.”

All that social media attention means free advertising for Dollar General. It boosts the company’s image with younger shoppers and is helping lift the dollar-store empire.

“People like those kind of videos because it’s something different,” Taylor Horn, a blogger who reviewed Believe on her YouTube channel, told CNN Business. Her channel has more than 750,000 followers.

“It’s cool when lines like Believe Beauty launch, where it’s accessible,” she said. “I think it’s more achievable and the things that your everyday consumer can afford.”

Dollar General is following a similar strategy to Walgreens, Target, Zara, Forever 21 and even 7-Eleven, CNN points out. These companies have all added their own in-house cosmetics lines in recent years.

Research contact: @CNN

No selfie-confidence? Study finds that people who often post selfies are viewed as less likeable

August 29, 2019

Let’s face it: If a friend is posting selfies nearly every day, many of us tire of seeing them. After all, why are they taking pictures of themselves so frequently? We know what they look like.

But the problem actually is worse than a simple case of over-exposure.

A recent study of Instagram feeds conducted at the Washington State University found that “Individuals who post a lot of selfies are almost uniformly viewed as less likeable, less successful, more insecure, and less open to new experiences than individuals who share a greater number of posed photos taken by someone else. Basically, selfie versus posie.”

“Even when two feeds had similar content, such as depictions of achievement or travel, feelings about the person who posted [the] selfies were negative and feelings about the person who posted posies were positive,” said Chris Barry, WSU professor of Psychology and lead author of the study. “It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media.”

Barry, along with WSU psychology students and collaborators from The University of Southern Mississippi analyzed data from two groups of students for the study. The first group comprised 30 undergraduates from a public university in the southern United States.

The participants were asked to complete a personality questionnaire and agreed to let the researchers use their 30 most recent Instagram posts for the experiment.

The posts were coded based on whether they were selfies or posies as well as what was depicted in each image, such as physical appearance, affiliation with others, events, activities or accomplishments.

The second group of students comprised 119 undergraduates from a university in the northwestern United States. This group was asked to rate the Instagram profiles of the first group on 13 attributes such as self‑absorption, low self‑esteem, extraversion and success using only the images from those profiles.

Barry’s team then analyzed the data to determine if there were visual cues in the first group of students’ photos that elicited consistent personality ratings from the second group.

They found that the students who posted more posies were viewed as being relatively higher in self‑esteem, more adventurous, less lonely, more outgoing, more dependable, more successful, and having the potential for being a good friend while the reverse was true for students with a greater number of selfies on their feed.

Personality ratings for selfies with a physical appearance theme, such as flexing in the mirror, were particularly negative, the researchers found.

 Other interesting findings from the study included that students in the first group who were rated by the second group as highly self‑absorbed tended to have more Instagram followers and followed more users.

The researchers also found the older the study participants in the second group were, the more they tended to rate profiles negatively in terms of success, consideration of others, openness to trying new things and likeability.

“One of the noteworthy things about this study is that none of these students knew each other or were aware of the Instagram patterns or number of followers of the people they were viewing,” Barry said.

The researchers have several theories to explain their results: The generally positive reactions to posies may be due to the fact that the photos appear more natural, similar to how the observer would see the poster in real life.

Another explanation is that selfies were far less frequently posted than posies and seeing one could signal something strange or unusual about the poster.

“While there may be a variety of motives behind why people post self‑images to Instagram, how those photos are perceived appears to follow a more consistent pattern,” Barry said. “While the findings of this study are just a small piece of the puzzle, they may be important to keep in mind before you make that next post.”

And lots of people should be thinking about this: A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston, calculated that the average Millennial could take up to about 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime.

Company CEO  Damon Brown, said in a news release. “If you don’t take a selfie during your vacation or while celebrating a special day, it is almost as if it never happened.”

Respondents to the Luster survey said they took an average of nine selfies a week and put the average amount of time needed at seven minutes. That adds up to about 54 hours a year of taking selfies, according to the survey, which included responses from 1,000 young adults.

That may sound shocking, but high numbers like those aren’t unheard of. The average 16- to 25-year-old woman spent 16 minutes taking an average of three selfies per day, or five hours a week, according to beauty site FeelUnique, which commissioned a study earlier this year, Refinery29 reported.

Despite these figures, only 10% of respondents told Luster they were addicted to taking selfies.

Research contact: @wsu

Neutrogena recalls Light Therapy Acne Masks, due to risk of eye injuries

July 22, 2019

Many consumers have “seen the light” when it comes to over-the counter acne LED-light therapy masks—and that’s not necessarily a good thing. In fact, earlier this month, Neutrogena issued a recall of its masks, according to The New York Times;  citing a “theoretical risk of eye injury” to a subset of users who have underlying eye conditions or are taking medicine that makes them sensitive to light.

The Times reported that Neutrogena said in a statement that its July 5 recall followed “reports of mild, transient visual adverse events, combined with a growing scientific discussion around the safety of blue light.”

A spokesperson told the news outlet that the “adverse events” had been caused by the Neutrogena masks; although she did not specify how many such events had taken place. She also said that no particular study or expert had informed the company’s decision to recall the masks.

But that is not the only brand that uses visible blue and red lights to treat facial acne. And it may not be the only mask that is causing problems—problems which the Australian Department of Health recently said could cause retinal damage or impair peripheral vision after repeated therapy with the lights.

Among the most popular among these devices are the Lacomri 7 Color LED Light Therapy Acne Mask, Convinsimo Light Therapy Acne Face Treatment, Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask, and Pulsaderm Acne Clearing Mask.

They all use the same treatment technology, explains the American Academy of Dermatology.

And that also may mean that they might share another problem: Such devices kill facial bacteria that could turn into pimples; they are not effective against existing blackhead, whiteheads, acne cysts, or nodules, the academy explains.

Indeed, says the academy, “Most people see clearing, but not 100%”—and “results vary from person to person.”

News of the recalls in the United States and in Australia was for the most part missed by consumers . A spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the Times that the agency was “aware of the recall” and was looking into it.

The mask was released by Neutrogena in October 2016. Actress Lena Dunham endorsed it on Instagram and said her post was not an advertisement. The product was awarded Best of Beauty in 2017 by Allure magazine..)

Dr. Rachel Nazarian, with Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, told the news outlet that only recently had concerns about blue light cropped up, and that they mostly referred to people who had baseline medical conditions that caused their retinas to be more sensitive to light.

But she said that Neutrogena’s mask did not offer enough eye protection. While she planned to continue to use LED treatments in her own practice, she said she used much stronger eyewear than was provided by the company.

“It shouldn’t be used in such a cavalier form,” Dr. Nazarian said. “If you’re using the right eyewear protection, you should be fine.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Russian roulette: FaceApp has gone viral, but is it a new case of Russkie (and risky) skullduggery?

July 19, 2019

Maybe cheese and wine get better with age, but people? Not so much. The human face and body tend to sag, wrinkle, and discolor as the years go on—no matter how good the bone structure.

So why is everyone on social media so excited about a new smartphone app that allows users to upload selfies and see their future faces, replete with jowls and graying hair?

Celebrities such as Drake, LeBron James, and the Jonas Brothers all have used the instant aging app, much to fans’ delight.

In fact, according to a report by The Washington Post, FaceApp has altered photos for more than 80 million users since its 2017 release; and allows smartphone users to change a facial photo’s age, gender, or hairstyle—often with convincing results. The app uses artificial-intelligence software to automatically alter the photos in seconds, much like similar features offered by Instagram and Snapchat.

But there is one major catch, we are just finding out: On July 17, the  Democratic National Committee warned presidential campaigns against using the viral face-transforming FaceApp, citing the software’s Russian developers. It urged campaign staff to “delete the app immediately.”

 “This novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians,” DNC Security Chief Bob Lord wrote in the alert to campaigns, which was first reported by CNN. “It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks.

Founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov told The Washington Post that FaceApp’s research-and-development team is based in Russia but that no user data is transferred into the country, and “most images” are deleted from company servers within 48 hours.

However, the app’s terms of service say users grant the company a “perpetual, irrevocable . . . [and] worldwide” license to use a user’s photos, name or likeness in practically any way it sees fit, the Post points out.

If a user deletes content from the app, FaceApp can still store and use it, the terms say. FaceApp also says it can’t guarantee that users’ data or information is secure and that the company can share user information with other companies and third-party advertisers, which aren’t disclosed in the privacy terms.

Goncharov said that users who want to remove their data from FaceApp can make the request through the app by clicking “Settings,” then “Support,” then “Report a bug” with “privacy” in the subject line. “Our support team is currently overloaded, but these requests have our priority,” a company statement read.

FaceApp’s terms of service say it can share information with a government agency if a subpoena, court order or search warrant is issued and the company has “a good faith belief that the law requires” it to do so. This information can also be shared with any country that FaceApp maintains facilities in, including Russia.

According to the Post, people who use the app also “consent to the processing, transfer and storage of information about you in and to the United States and other countries, where you may not have the same rights and protections as you do under local law.”

Kate O’Neill, a tech consultant, told the news outlet that FaceApp’s privacy terms are still murky, despite the company’s clarification. “People should be savvy about when apps and memes and games are encouraging everyone to engage in the same way,” she said. “It puts the data in a vulnerable state that becomes something that can train facial recognition and other kinds of systems that may not be intended the way people are using it.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Mirror, mirror: Going to bed with your makeup on will age your face much faster

July 12, 2019

Face it: We’re not getting any younger. But there are some things we can do that will put “much less mileage on” our features and complexions as the years go by.

On Instagram this week, dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD, who practices in Stony Brook, New York, cautioned patients and followers, alike, “Did you know that going to bed with makeup on can age skin up to 7x faster?”

It’s true, MSN reports, following an interview with the good doctor.

If you “sometimes” skip your before-bed rinse, it might be time to sound the alarm. Sure, you can get breakouts if you leave the war paint on, but even those with poreless, perfect complexions can suffer by ignoring basic hygiene.

To help us understand why, Dr. Mariwalla explained to MSN that night is a time for skin renewal; however, when makeup lays over pores— trapping dead epidermis and bacteria—it stops the cells from shedding normally.

In addition, she warns, skin-destroying free radicals can cling to makeup. “We know that these cause photoaging and can lead to the formation of wrinkles,” she explains. “By not allowing your skin to recover from oxidative stress that occurs during the day, you can wind up with prematurely aged skin.” Free radicals, she adds, also lead to collagen degradation.

While Dr. Mariwalla concedes that thick foundations and oil-based makeup are worse for the skin than lighter formulations, she says makeup, in general, occludes the pores, which is the first step to trouble. “And remember that even if you wear no makeup, washing your face before bed is important just to rinse off the accumulation of oil and dirt that occurs naturally during the day,” she says.

 A half-wash doesn’t count, by the way. Even if you don’t have full makeup on, Dr. Mariwalla says that mascara and eyeliner left on the lashes and lids can still lead to skin irritation. And while makeup wipes aren’t ideal, she told MSN that they are better than nothing. “Try to do two passes instead of one,” she advises.

Research contact: @MSN

Hungry for approval: ‘Eating activism’ surfaces on Instagram

July 9, 2019

Honor your hunger,” proclaims one post on Instagram—and it represents only the leading edge of a new food movement powered by one of the only demographic groups that it still seems to be okay to mock.

 “I’m Katie, I’m fat, I love food and my life,” says the bio at the top of the Instagram account @fat.girl.eats.

And the images on the site are a testament to not only to her appetite—what 35-year-old office worker Katie Przybl describes as “Photos of me enjoying food while fat”—but also a cry for empathy and acceptance.

“My Instagram is all happy fat people living their lives,” Przybyl recently told The Daily Beast. 

And she has plenty of company, as a member of a growing online community of women who “are done fighting their weight.” Quite simply, they “are over” the whole shaming ethic and just want to live their lives authentically.

These armchair activists hope exposure to their pictures over time will do the quiet work of normalizing fat people. “If I manage to convince one fat person that they have a right to live a decent life, then I consider that a form of activism,” says Przybyl.

According to The Daily Beast, some 45 million Americans go on diets every year. Over half of those dieters are women—which is no surprise since research shows that many women have a relationship to food that is characterized by fear, loathing, and anxiety.

Just ask any fat woman about eating a burger in public and you’ll probably get a lengthy sigh. But in a world where we shop, date, and make friends virtually, what happens when fat women post pictures of themselves eating online?

Intuitive eating coach Alissa Rumsey created the Instagram hashtag #womeneatingfood along with fellow diet counselor Linda Tucker, The New Daily reports. The concept is simple. Women are invited to take photos of themselves eating and then post them online with the hashtag, which has grown from three pictures to over 1,100 in just three months.

On Instagram, where feeds are perpetually flooded with well-lit food tableaux and the pressure for perfection is immense, it’s rare to see ordinary, fat women eating food in all its caloric glory. Tucker says she regularly receives messages from people saying they want to post pictures but don’t feel ready.

The photos are sparking a discussion about who gets to eat in public, and why. Rumsey searched women eating food online and found a bounty of stock photos—all of thin, mostly white women delicately nibbling on salads. Rumsey searched “women eating food” and a couple of variations of that on Instagram and found a scant three photos. (#womeneatingbananas came up with hundreds of posts, though.)

“I wanted a place where you could see real women eating without apology, without talking about how good or bad they were being,” Rumsey told The Daily Beast.

And the movement has gone worldwide: The language of the captions changes from English to Finnish to Portuguese. Lots of the captions are long, with statements about who inspired them to post the pictures. One woman grins, a pile of ramen cascading from her mouth. #sorrynotsorry, her hashtag reads.

The comments often include applause emojis. The women are often thanked for posting. Lots of people write ‘yum!’ It’s surprisingly wholesome, with not a troll in sight.

“You guys! I ate a donut! And I don’t feel bad about it all!” posted one woman. “So happy for you,” responded another.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Seeing stars: Cameo, a Chicago startup that sells video shoutouts from celebrities, raises $50M for expansion

June 26, 2019

Want a shoutout from Brett Favre ($500), Gilbert Gottfried ($150), Stormy Daniels ($250), Tommy Lee ($350), Teresa Giudice ($200), or Dr. Pimple Popper ($100)?

Cameo, the Chicago-based startup that lets users buy personalized video messages from celebrities, has raised $50 million to help fuel an international expansion and further develop its app, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Most of Cameo’s shoutouts are booked through its website, CEO and Co-Founder Steven Galanis told the news outlet. The startup has been building its product development team and working toward relaunching an improved app.

 “We want to make it something super engaging, that when you’re on the ‘L’ going to work, you’re opening Cameo instead of Instagram,” he told the Tribune in an interview.

Since Cameo launched more than two years ago, the startup has drawn attention for its quick and affordable access to celebrities. Last year, it joined tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Airbnb on Time’s list of 50 “Genius Companies.”

But the company has not made it this far without running into some problems: In late 2018, it was reported that an account associated with an anti-Semitic group had tricked several celebrities into making Cameo videos using coded anti-Semitic language. Galanis quickly responded, calling the videos a “wake-up call.”

Cameo employs about 100 people, more than 65 of whom work out of its Windy City headquarters. Galanis said he plans to bolster the company’s international employee ranks, and wants to add European soccer players, Bollywood actors, and K-Pop artists to its celebrity roster.

Currently, the site offers video greetings from thousands of athletes and B-, C- and D-list celebrities. Consumers can pay as much as $350 to receive a greeting from rapper and TV star Ice-T, or $200 for former Chicago Bears player Mike Singletary.

This month’s round of funding brings the total amount Cameo has raised to $65 million. Galanis declined to disclose the valuation to the Tribune-however

Menlo Park, California-based investor Kleiner Perkins led the round of funding. Other investors included media and tech investor The Chernin Group, venture capital firm Spark Ventures, Bain Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

If this optical illusion seems to be moving, you are stressed out

June 20, 2019

Many of us remember mood rings, which peaked in popularity in the 1970s. When worn, the rings purportedly revealed your state of mind by turning colors—from violet for happy and romantic, to blue for calm and relaxed, to yellow/amber for tense and excited, to brown/gray for nervous and anxious.

Now, an optical illusion that is trending on social media supposedly serves the same purpose.

Some say that the image was created by a Japanese neurologist; others claim that Ukranian artist Yurii Perepadia revealed the secret optical illusion and posted it on Instagram.

Whomever the progenitor may be, India Today made the image famous, and it also has appeared on MSN, as well as on the sites of thousands of obsessed social media fans.

If the image remains firmly fixed in place, you are calm; if it moves slightly, you are stressed—and it it moves like a carousel, you are very stressed.

Research contact: @yurrii_p