In the first Faking the News Idea Project Post, I investigated the possibilities of creating my class project around the current Brazilian political scene. Still, as mentioned in the text, it has been very challenging to find a good hoax or satire that would be both original, bring a positive message and not put me in any legal complications (once trying to fake famous media platforms, Brazilian laws can be very restrictive).
I want to focus my study in the Brazilian territory, because my background and cultural experience can contribute to the creation of more effective fake news. Also, I believe in the use of social networks as the main media platform to create and spread this type of information. Accordingly, I started to look for different problems that users may face when poorly checking and over relying in digital social sources.
Instagram is an interesting media tool to create fake profiles. Recently, the story of this “Brazilian Surfing War Photographer” was exposed as fake. With around 125k followers, the impostor made subtle changes to real images, such as inverting to avoid plagiarism detection. He claimed to be an UN photographer, and slip past the editors of several magazines and The Wall Street Journal. In this case, the hoax was to create fame, a personal goal. It is hard to understand other reason why someone would create a fake profile to plagiarize real photos of war zones from photographers who actually put their lives in risk to capture those images. I mean, it still shows the fragility of the system, the fragility of the way people rely in social media. But not in a positive way.
What if we didn’t need to steal images to show this fragility? What if we could pick a topic popular enough on Instagram in a way that would be beneficial for people to review the way they consume this type of content once they find out it is a hoax? Artist Amalia Ulman, for example, back in 2014, created social media fake personas and used Instagram as a medium to test how much people believe in what social media profiles portray. She explored not only how authenticity and identity are distorted in the social media echo chamber, but what this means, in particular, for women.
In a research made this past May by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK about how social media affects young people’s mental health and well being , Instagram had the most negative impact. Body Image was one of the topics covered in this study, particularly affecting females in their teens and early twenties. As many as nine in 10 teenage girls say they are unhappy with their body. “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’.” – said an Anonymous around 20-24 during the survey.
Below you can check how each mental factor indicated by the research was rated in Instagram. Both for positive and negative sides.
Fitness, Health, Beauty and Lifestyle. There are so many Instagram influencers in Brazil in this topic. From big names with over millions of followers to new profiles, trying to fit into this new wannabe influencer trend. With such a vast amount of information, and many users following and looking for health and fitness content and inspiration, many of the information in such an important topic may be taken as truth. Lots of this diet trends or photoshopped images, 30 days transformations and food recommendations… is everything those Fitness, Health and Fitness influencers post real?
With that in mind, I came up with a concept idea for my Faking the News Class Project: to create a Instagram Fitness&Health&Beauty Hoax. I plan to use myself, only really photoshopped (to a point it will be really hard to identify me), and work hard on creating a fan base for the next month. Meanwhile I’ll create a story – probably of an obese person that got in shape – and I’ll start to post absurd fitness tips, exercises and products. After this “fake” month, I would expose my real identity and tell the real reasons behind this hoax.
To execute this idea well I would need to considerably improve my photoshop skills. Also, I will need to learn a lot about hashtags, trends and Instagram hacks to generate more followers and ads. Besides, also have a great creativity to look for healthy/fitness/beauty tips that will be at the same time believable, absurd and still won’t be harmful people’s health.