Hashtag UnFiltered


A 2014 study conducted by social media marketing company, Spreadfast in partnership with Instagram owner Facebook, found that 11% of #NoFilter tagged photos on Instagram were actually filtered. That equated to about 8.6 million duplicitously hashtagged pictures. Photos as mundane and innocuous as hair buns or Starbucks coffee cups and countless selfies and sunsets were all published by users with the purposely deceitful tag. Insta-frauds favorite mode of #NoFilter filter was the Amaro setting(% 15), a filter that slightly weakens the center of the photo while increasing exposure that results in extra light and a stylish vintage look to the photo that is really quite noticeably different than unprocessed pics. The “epidemic” is so out of control there’s even a website dedicated to fishing out sham unfiltered photos called FakerCatcher where you paste the photos URL in and voila, there’s your proof, list of filter use and all. There’s also a Tumblr account dedicated to the pictures exposed using FakerCatcher called FilterFakers, the site uses the tagline : “…There are obviously a few cheaters out there…that want you to think that their photos just came out that great and you had to believe them- until now”. The site scolds, “Go nuts with Instagram filters just be honest about it” but further down on their About section, we find the advice that only built in Instagram filters can be detected and if you want to cheat use apps like Camera+. It’s ironic they’ve devoted that much time into uncovering “liars” only to offer another avenue for Insta-deceit.
So why do we care so much exactly? Why do we, 8.6 million users, care so much to lie in something as trivial as a hashtag and then simultaneously care enough to find those that lied? In Jill Walker Rettberg’s , the author dives extensively into filters and our fixation on them in social media representations of ourselves. Jill Walker Rettberg describes filters in several different contexts and highlights Instagram filters as a way to “…make our selfies and photos of our everyday life seem unfamiliar, but the filter itself is repeated so often that the defamiliarisation effect wears off and becomes cliché” (Walker Rettberg 26). So is the fraudulent #NoFilter a response to the desire to not be cliché? Obviously it is shallow but is it just a natural progression to what the act of over-processing on social media has done to our acceptance of the actual appearance of ourselves and our surroundings in actual reality? We want to be real but can’t really handle what the real, really looks like. Jill Walker Rettberg writes how selfies can be too raw and too revealing, so simply #NoFilter filters can’t handle the truth. So why do we care when others can’t handle how we handle their representation of the truth on social media? Jill Walker Rettberg also brings up Katie Warfield’s notion that “the outstretched arm of the front facing camera selfie, includes the viewer in a space like a forced embrace with the viewer between the person and camera” (Walker Rettberg 9). Are these lies a violation of the implicit intimacy and trust of a selfie? It is plausible but it’s also laughable, because simply put people are insecure and people lie. 8.6 million people couldn't handle what you thought about the raw footage of their selfie, their Starbucks or their sunset. HASHTAG SAD.

6 thoughts on “Hashtag UnFiltered

  1. natalypalma

    Wow, that’s crazy that people would like about a FILTER. The reality of it all is that there are very insecure people in the world and they might be too absorbed into the digital age/media that they think it is important. I am guilty of trying to post the best photo I can on instagram, I’m not going to lie, but the need to lie about a thing as simple as having a filter is so so strange to me. Everyone has their insecurities and their reasoning for doing certain things, I suppose!

  2. jordaninnabi

    As someone who has never used Instagram, I’m a little confused about the stigma surrounding filters. Do people find them cheesy/inauthentic? It seems like they’re framed as an appealing feature of the platform, so I’m not sure why people are so judgmental towards them.

  3. bhesslegrave

    Yeah this totally fits in with out discussion about anti-selfies. There is some serious tension about turning the camera lens on yourself and then taking the time to set a filter on it to appear a certain way. It seems ironic that the hate for this stems from thinking the person is spending too much time looking at them self – when this entire website phenomenon devoted to fake #nofilters would probably take up a lot of time in a person’s day too….

  4. fmanto

    I think it sounds a little ridiculous that we have websites now that can tell you who’s “faking” the #nofilter. It’s just really funny to think about. I know a few people actually who spend incredible amounts of time photoshopping and kind of filtering their photos on other apps other than Instagram to make it seem like there were no filters. Even I spend more time than I should on deciding filters, too. But this whole *gasp* she filtered her #nofilter photo is so funny to me. I think society enjoys calling out the liars and this is another way social media has provided us this opportunity.

  5. ErikaFriesenN

    This idea of pointing out the use of a filter in #NoFilter can contribute to a society that wants you to be honest, but to be honest why even put #NoFilter… does it really matter? I find it funny that we try to point out the flaws within others Instagrams. I think this is such a good point to bring up because of the time people spend editing their photos to be perfect takes away from the ‘originality’ of the photo, but the whole point is to be creative and make the photo your own.

  6. frcarbonellm

    This piece was definitely an eye catcher. I must admit though, that I am guilt of having hash tagged #nofilter when I have in fact use a filter. However, it has been very rare and far between posts. Also, more often than not, when I don’t use a filter I usually don’t even bother to put a caption either.
    I was left scratching my head, why lie, and that’s when the guilt sank in. I kept reading I didn’t want to associate myself with the people this article was talking about.
    I do more often than not resort to just one filter: Sierra. I probably use is about 90% of the time. But I never hashtag the name sierra. Also, according to the article I wrote, teens apparently see filters as a big no no so even just the mention of no filter to them must be mundane, I would assume.
    I really like how you brought up the idea of trust. I never would have though of Instagram as a medium for trust within a personal relationship.
    I enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing!
    – Felipe Carbonell

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