Mar 21, 2022 - Technology

The rise of fake beauty

Animated illustration of a hand swiping to view different lipstick colors.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An ominous part of social media apps like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram is the proliferation of beauty filters, which subtly and realistically make you look more attractive.

  • Think fuller lips, thinner faces, lighter eyes and even the appearance of makeup.

Why it matters: These filters promote a certain beauty standard — and can quickly erode someone's sense of self-worth and confidence, especially when it comes to young people.

Case in point: Beauty filters are usually a choice — users can switch them on and off. But a recent bug on TikTok left users stuck on a beautifying effect, MIT Tech Review senior editor Abby Ohlheiser reports.

  • The filter, which couldn't be switched off for some days, was forcibly altering people's appearances when they made videos. TikTok eventually addressed the bug.
  • But, as Ohlheiser notes, even a temporary glitch can cause great psychological harm when an app has 1 billion users.

The big picture: If someone looks even a few percentage points better, they can get hooked on apps and filters, experts say.

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