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Virtual influencers are gaining popularity on Meta’s social media platforms and might need to be governed by the company itself / Digital Information World

With an increase in virtual influencers and internet media, Meta got to work establish guidelines and the ethical limits of how this technology should be used on its platforms.

Everyone has encountered some form and form of virtual content online these days. Of course, when I’m typing virtual content, I have to make it clear that it’s content revolving around entirely fictional entities and often the result of 3D rendering, because otherwise literally all the content is in some degree virtual. If you can’t recall any exact instances of encountering such content, I’ll ask you to take a closer look at Instagram ads next time. Some of the models, after a double take, will seem a little contrived, for lack of a better word. This is because they are entirely CG individuals who have gained traction on social media platforms. Internet, I would like to introduce you to the advent of the virtual influencer market.

Some virtual influencers such as Shuda and Lil’ Maquela have gained popularity on Instagram, with followers ranging from thousands to millions. I suppose part of the reason these accounts have steadily increased in number over the years is due to the low effort required to create them, combined with the fact that literally anyone can potentially create a social network character by itself, regardless of personal appeal. Of course, rendering a fully functional 3D model isn’t the easiest task, but once a model has been established, it becomes easier to reuse it over and over again in different poses and locations. Such characters also allow for the employment of a certain creative spark; Lil’ Maquela, for example, has had a whole slew of posts trying to uncover some backstory regarding his “true” origin and whatnot, which can be fun for users to follow.

Meta is really happy that another generation of influencers performs so well on its platforms, but virtual influencers come with their own set of problems. Since deepfakes are so easy to make, celebrities can potentially have their image used for harmful purposes. These virtual accounts are also linked to mass movements such as #BlackLivesMatters, which can be a very sensitive issue for real, real people. This made the conglomerate of social media platforms realize that they needed to establish ground rules and regulations for all these accounts to follow, thus avoiding future disputes.

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