Connect with us

Social Networking

TikTok’s Bold Glamour Filter Sparks Warnings Over AI and Toxic Beauty Standards




TikTok's Bold Glamour filter gives users plumped up lips, a well-chiselled chin and fluffy eyebrows worthy of a fashionista.

By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 10 March 2023

TikTok’s latest sensation is a real-time filter called Bold Glamour that sashays right past debates over toxic beauty standards on social media, going all in on giving users a new face.

Quietly released to the app’s more than a billion users, Bold Glamour convincingly blends a user’s real face with an AI-generated ideal of a supermodel, drawing both laughs and alarm.

Millions of posts on TikTok capture the shock at Bold Glamour’s superpowers, with users marveling at their plumped-up lips, well-chiseled chin, and fluffy eyebrows worthy of a fashionista.

“It’s the new onslaught of the ‘beauty myth’,” said Kim Johnson, associate professor of nursing at Middle Georgia State University in the United States.

Effects like Bold Glamour “lead to unhealthy behaviors such as excessive dieting, comparison, and low self-esteem,” Johnson said.

Filters and effects have been a stalwart of TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat for years, but the latest generation of features like Bold Glamour is supercharged.

“It is not subtle. It is instantaneous. It is powerful,” said Gwendolyn Seidman, professor of psychology at Albright College, in Psychology Today.

Those yearning for social approval, like under-pressure teens, “won’t like what they see when they turn the filter off, and that’s the problem,” she added.

‘So cool’ –

But beyond Bold Glamour’s troubling aesthetic, observers are scratching their heads about the technology itself and wondering if the app is an unsung advance in artificial intelligence.

Earlier filters overlayed an effect — like joke lenses on Snapchat — over an onscreen face and were easily discernible with a sudden movement or by waving a hand in front of the image.

“What’s so cool about this is that you can … take your hand and put it in front of your face and it (continues to look) pretty darn real,” mixed reality artist Luke Hurd explained on TikTok.

And while the technology has been available on powerful computers, real-time video filters are now on smartphones, ready for all.

“This is AI for the masses to alter one’s appearance and that’s what’s catching so many people’s attention,” said Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at the University of Florida.

Contacted by AFP, TikTok declined to discuss the technology behind the app, leaving an air of mystery on how Bold Glamour actually works.

The company did insist that “being true to yourself is celebrated and encouraged” on the site and that effects help empower “self-expression and creativity.”

“We continue to work with expert partners and our community, to help keep TikTok a positive, supportive space for everyone,” TikTok said in a statement.

According to experts, Bold Glamour is using generative AI, following the same idea behind ChatGPT or Dall-E, apps that can churn out poems or art and designs on demand almost instantaneously.

Petr Somol, the AI research director at Gen, a tech security firm, said these type of filters have existed for a couple of years, but TikTok’s latest version is “pretty fine-tuned and well done”.

Crucially, if Bold Glamour were indeed generative AI’s latest iteration, it would mean that the filter depends on goldmines of data to deliver its increasingly perfect effects.

This dependency on big data comes as the Chinese-owned firm is under intense scrutiny by the United States and other western governments that fear the company’s ties to communist authorities in Beijing.

“The question is whether TikTok is really concerned with the implications of this new shiny thing,” said Selepak.

Path to ‘deep fake’ –
Catfishing, scams, deep fakes: some wonder whether state-of-the-art filters are pointing to a world where the ability to misuse the technology is now at the fingertips of anyone with a smartphone.

The latest filters “are not necessarily a deep fake technology as such, but there is a relatively straightforward path extending in that direction,” said Somol.

Siwei Lyu, professor of computer science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said it was unlikely that the major platforms like TikTok or Meta-owned Instagram would knowingly provide dangerous tools.

But “what makes them more dangerous is people who understand the technology could change it to help users evade being identified online”, opening new avenues for misuse, he added.

Social Networking

Meta to Offer Paid Versions of Facebook and Instagram in Europe to Avoid Ads: Report




Meta would reportedly continue to offer free versions of the apps with ads in the EU.
By Reuters | Updated: 2 September 2023

Meta Platforms is considering paid versions of Facebook and Instagram with no advertisements for users residing in the European Union (EU) as a response to scrutiny from regulators, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Those who pay for the subscriptions would not see ads while Meta would also continue to offer free versions of the apps with ads in the EU, the report said, citing three people with knowledge of the plans.

The report added that the possible move may help Meta combat privacy concerns and other scrutiny from the EU as it would give users an alternative to the company’s ad-based services, which rely on analyzing people’s data.

Meta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The social media behemoth has been in the crosshairs of EU antitrust regulators and lost a fight in July against a 2019 German order that barred it from collecting users’ data without consent.

It is unclear how much the paid versions of the app would cost, the NYT report said.

The social media giant has been in the spotlight of EU antitrust regulators and has been fined NOK 1 million (roughly Rs. 77,51,000) per day since August 14 for breaching users’ privacy by harvesting user data and using it to target advertising at them. The company is seeking a temporary injunction against the order by Norway’s data protection authority, which imposes a daily fine for the next three months. The regulator, Datatilsynet, had said on July 17 that the company would be fined if it did not address privacy breaches the regulator had identified.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading

Social Networking

Elon Musk’s X Adds 5-Second Delay to Links for NY Times, Reuters and Social Media Rivals Like Facebook: Report




Musk, who bought Twitter in October, has previously lashed out at news organizations and journalists who have reported critically on his companies.
By Reuters | Updated: 16 August 2023

Social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, delayed access to links to content on the Reuters and New York Times websites as well as rivals like Bluesky, Facebook, and Instagram, according to a Washington Post report on Tuesday.

Clicking a link on X to one of the affected websites resulted in a delay of about five seconds before the webpage loaded, the Washington Post reported, citing tests it conducted on Tuesday. Reuters also saw a similar delay in the tests it ran.

By late Tuesday afternoon, X appeared to have eliminated the delay. When contacted for comment, X confirmed the delay was removed but did not elaborate.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who bought Twitter in October, has previously lashed out at news organizations and journalists who have reported critically on his companies, which include Tesla and SpaceX. Twitter has previously prevented users from posting links to competing social media platforms.

Reuters could not establish the precise time when X began delaying links to some websites.

A user on Hacker News, a tech forum, posted about the delay earlier on Tuesday and wrote that X began delaying links to the New York Times on August 4. On that day, Musk criticized the publication’s coverage of South Africa and accused it of supporting calls for genocide. Reuters has no evidence that the two events are related.

A spokesperson for the New York Times said it has not received an explanation from X about the link delay.

“While we don’t know the rationale behind the application of this time delay, we would be concerned by targeted pressure applied to any news organization for unclear reasons,” the spokesperson said on Tuesday.

A Reuters spokesperson said: “We are aware of the report in the Washington Post of a delay in opening links to Reuters stories on X. We are looking into the matter.”

Bluesky, an X rival that has Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on its board, did not reply to a request for comment.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading

Social Networking

Snapchat Said to Be Under Scrutiny From UK Watchdog Over Underage Users




Under UK data protection law, social media companies need parental consent before processing data of children under 13.
By Reuters | Updated: 8 August 2023

Britain’s data regulator is gathering information on Snapchat to establish whether the US instant messaging app is doing enough to remove underage users from its platform, two people familiar with the matter said.

Reuters reported exclusively in March that Snapchat owner Snap had only removed a few dozen children aged under-13 from its platform in Britain last year, while UK media regulator Ofcom estimates it has thousands of underage users.

Under UK data protection law, social media companies need parental consent before processing data of children under 13. Social media firms generally require users to be 13 or over but have had mixed success in keeping children off their platforms.

Snapchat declined to give details of any measures it might have taken to reduce the number of underage users.

“We share the goals of the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) to ensure digital platforms are age appropriate and support the duties set out in the Children’s Code,” a Snap spokesperson said.

“We continue to have constructive conversations with them on the work we’re doing to achieve this,” they added.

Before launching any official investigation, the ICO generally gathers information related to an alleged breach. It may issue an information notice, a formal request for internal data that may aid the investigation, before deciding whether to fine the individual or organisation being investigated.

Last year, Ofcom found 60 percent of children aged between eight and 11 had at least one social media account, often created by supplying a false date of birth. It also found Snapchat was the most popular app for underage social media users.

The ICO received a number of complaints from the public concerning Snap’s handling of children’s data after the Reuters report, a source familiar with the matter said.

Some of the complaints related to Snapchat not doing enough to keep young children off its platform, the source said.

The ICO has spoken to users and other regulators to assess whether there has been any breach by Snap, the sources said.

An ICO spokesperson told Reuters it continued to monitor and assess the approaches Snap and other social media platforms were taking to prevent underage children from accessing their platforms.

A decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into Snapchat will be made in the coming months, the sources said.


If the ICO found Snap to be in breach of its rules, the firm could face a fine equivalent to up to 4 percent of its annual global turnover, which according to a Reuters calculation would equate to $184 million (roughly Rs. 1,522 crore) based on its most recent financial results.

Snapchat and other social media firms are under pressure globally to better police content on their platforms.

The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Young Children), said that figures it had obtained showed that Snapchat accounted for 43 percent of cases in which social media was used to distribute indecent images of children.

Snapchat has previously not responded to this report when asked to comment on it by Reuters.

Earlier this year, the ICO fined TikTok 12.7 million pounds ($16.2 million) for misusing children’s data, saying the Snap competitor did not “take sufficient action” to remove them.

A TikTok spokesperson said at the time that it “invested heavily” to keep under-13s off the platform and that its 40,000-strong safety team worked “around the clock” to keep it safe.

Snapchat does block users from signing up with a date of birth that puts them under the age of 13? However, other apps take more proactive measures to prevent underage children from accessing their platforms.

For example, if an under-13-year-old has failed to sign up to TikTok using their real date of birth, the app continues blocking them from creating an account.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading

Social Networking

Elon Musk’s X Sues Nonprofit That Tracks Hate Speech, Disinformation




The lawsuit stems from a media report that stated findings from CCDH's research saying that hate speech had increased towards minority communities on the X.
By Reuters | Updated: 1 August 2023

Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday sued a nonprofit that fights hate speech and disinformation, accusing it of asserting false claims and encouraging advertisers to pause investment on the platform.

US media reported earlier that X, owned by Elon Musk, had sent a letter to the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and threatened to sue the non-profit for unspecified damages.

In response to that letter, lawyers for the CCDH accused X of “intimidating those who have the courage to advocate against incitement, hate speech and harmful content online.” They also said that X’s allegations had no factual basis.

The lawsuit stems from a media report published in July that stated findings from CCDH’s research saying that hate speech had increased towards minority communities on the platform.

X and its CEO Linda Yaccarino labeled the report false and said it was based on “a collection of incorrect, misleading, and outdated metrics, mostly from the period shortly after Twitter’s acquisition.”

In a blog post on Monday, X said the CCDH had gained access to its data without authorisation and accused it of scraping data from its platform, violating X’s terms.

It reiterated that the metrics contained in the research were used out of context to make unsubstantiated assertions about X.

The CCDH did not respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

X recently filed lawsuits against four unnamed entities in Texas and Israel’s Bright Data for scraping data.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading

Social Networking

Meta to Launch AI-Powered Chatbots With Different Personalities by September: Report




Meta has been reportedly designing prototypes for chatbots that can have humanlike discussions with its users.
By Reuters | Updated: 1 August 2023

Meta Platforms is preparing to launch a range of artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots that exhibit different personalities as soon as September, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Meta has been designing prototypes for chatbots that can have humanlike discussions with its users, as the company attempts to boost its engagement with its social media platforms, according to the report, citing people with knowledge of the plans.

The Menlo Park, California-based social media giant is even exploring a chatbot that speaks like Abraham Lincoln and another that advises on travel options in the style of a surfer, the report added. The purpose of these chatbots will be to provide a new search function as well as offer recommendations.

The report comes as Meta executives are focusing on boosting retention on its new text-based app Threads, after the app lost more than half of its users in the weeks following its launch on July 5.
Meta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The Facebook parent reported a strong rise in advertising revenue in its earnings last week, forecasting third-quarter revenue above market expectations.

The company has been climbing back from a bruising 2022, buoyed by hype around emerging AI technology and an austerity drive in which it has shed around 21,000 employees since last fall.

Bloomberg News reported in July that Apple is working on AI offerings similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, adding that it has built its own framework, known as ‘Ajax’, to create large language models and is also testing a chatbot that some engineers call ‘Apple GPT’.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading

Social Networking

Elon Musk Takes Product and Engineering Chief Role at X, Yaccarino to Lead All Other Divisions




X CEO Linda Yaccarino will oversee divisions including human resources, legal, finance, sales and operations.
By Reuters | Updated: 1 August 2023

X owner Elon Musk and Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino will both oversee the trust and safety team at the company formerly known as Twitter, the social media concern said on Monday.

X’s product and engineering team will report to Musk, while Yaccarino will oversee all other divisions, including human resources, legal, finance, sales and operations, X said.

The trust and safety team, which is responsible for content moderation, has been the focus of some criticism of the platform after Musk acquired the company last October. Researchers have accused X of relaxing content guard rails, leading to a spike in harmful posts. The company has said the majority of content views are of “healthy” posts.

In an email to X employees on Monday, which was shared with Reuters, Yaccarino said the company is searching for a new leader for brand safety and suitability.

The previous head of brand safety, A.J. Brown, who worked on efforts to prevent advertisements from appearing next to unsuitable content, left the company last month.

Yaccarino said in the email that three X leaders will oversee different responsibilities within trust and safety, including law enforcement operations and threat disruptions.

The changes to trust and safety come after Ella Irwin resigned as head of the team in June.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading