Virtual Influencers Are Rising In Popularity Across Meta’s Social Media Platforms, And Might Need Governing By The Company Itself

With a rise in virtual influencers and media across the internet, Meta has set itself to work establishing guidelines and ethical boundaries for how such technology should be utilized across its platforms.

Everyone’s encountered some shape and form of virtual content online nowadays. Of course, when I type out virtual content, I should specify that this refers to content revolving around entities that are entirely fictional and often the result of 3D rendering, since otherwise literally all content is to some extent virtual. If you can’t remember any exact examples of encountering such content, I’ll ask you to look more closely at Instagram ads next time around. Some of the models, upon a double take, will look a bit unnatural, for lack of a better word. That’s because they’re entirely CG individuals that have been gaining traction across social media platforms. Internet, I’d like to introduce the advent of the virtual influencers marketplace.

Certain virtual influencers such as Shuda and Lil’ Maquela have been gaining massive traction across Instagram, with followers ranging from the thousands to millions. I suppose part of the reason that such accounts have been steadily increasing in number over the years is due to the relatively low-effort that goes into making them, combined with the fact that literally anyone can potentially create a social media persona on their own, regardless of personal appeal. Sure, rendering a fully-functional 3D model is not the easiest of tasks, but once a model has been established, reusing it again and again in different poses and locations becomes easier. Such characters also allow for a certain creative spark to be employed; Lil’ Maquela, for example, had an entire streak of posts attempting to discover a backstory regarding her “real” origin and whatnot, which can be fun for users to follow through on.

Meta’s definitely happy that another crop of influencers is performing this well across its platforms, but virtual influencers come with their own set of problems. With deepfakes being so easy to make, celebrities can potentially have their image be used for harmful purposes. Such virtual accounts are also tied to the likes of mass movements such as #BlackLivesMatters, which can be a very sensitive issue for actual, real life people. This has had the social media platform conglomerate realize that it needs to establish baseline rules and regulations for all such accounts to follow through on, therefore preventing future strife.

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