Broomfield, CO–The popularity of sharing pictures of food, places, and people seemed to have been given a positive trend when Instagram arrived at the app store. But Ahnika Luptin, an independent researcher from Arvada, CO, who studies the dwellings of app features, has unveiled an unprecedented truth about the photo giant.
“The filters Instagram raises are not being taken care of as well as we originally thought.” Luptin says in her report, #nofilter, or #killfilters? (2014). Luptin, too, enjoyed the mobile app after its initial release in late 2010, but started to notice strange behaviors from the filters. The person responsible for the start of her research was former colleague Bryan LaTroff.
“I really enjoyed the Brannan filter when I first installed Instagram,” LaTroff explains, “It has a very metallic look and is very majestic. But I noticed how it seemed to enhance the appearance of my wife when she got sick–almost as if they had something in common.” LaTroff took to filter to Dr. Liam Bergoni, a Biological Filters professor at Regis University. Dr. Bergoni recalled the encounter:
“It was a pleasant surprise to see Bryan again, though a little unsettling. At first I had no idea what he could be talking about. I’ve raised several filters in my labs before and I have never documented any behavioral differences from the ones provided by Instagram. But I never could quite achieve the kind of metallic shading Instagram provides.” Bergoni looked at the Brannan filter with LaTroff and they discovered the ingredient to the metallic shading: Lead.
“Instagram promises 100% fair trade, cage-free, grass-fed, and no additive filters. Only the finest!”
Every word in this statement is true, but only just. As Luptin explains, “Fair trade is a program in which companies enter themselves to pay farmers and other local producers a reasonable amount of money for their products. Instagram pays 100% fair trade while participating in fair trade. Other filter farms not registered for fair trade, and that is where a majority of Instagram’s filters come from.” Luptin continues to explain that, though Instagram is cage free, that does not mean free-roam. The filters are kept in tightly enclosed, fenced areas that are technically classified as pens, not cages. Instagram also claims to have “grass-fed” filters, which is again true, but the grass is genetically modified in order to enhance filtering capabilities while still being legally classified as “grass.” Finally, “no additive filters” is a very loose term. Though Instagram implies that the filters are completely natural with no genetic modifications to the product, that is all “no additive” means. Instagram hides the fact that the aforementioned grass as well as medications and other consumables are genetically modified, though not to the amount where they must list it on the product.
In addition to the Brannan filters, Luptin found other filters with mishandled care. Kelvin is raised in intense heat so as to increase the average body temperature of the filter, Earlybird filters suffer from sleep deprivation, Sierra filters are not actually raised in sierra terrains, but rather spend their whole lives on the leather seats of GMC Sierras until they are ready for download, and Toaster filters are buttered and bathed in jelly every night with an electric shock every two weeks to stimulate their cores. As we concluded our interview with Luptin, we asked her if she wanted to leave a message for those who use Instagram filters. Her response: “Definitely to #nofilter. We are hurting these filters by letting Instagram think we want them the way they are. Let’s make a difference in filterkind by leaving them to Polaroid, so that they may be remembered as a strong species, but slowly drift away, out of our usage.”