This Social Media Influencer Has 1.2 Million Followers — And She's Not Even Real
Lil Miquela has a huge social media following, and she's not even human.
At first glance, Lil Miquela‘s Instagram profile looks like any other social media influencer’s. The 19-year-old Brazilian-American influencer/model/pop singer wears designer labels like Chanel, Proenza Schouler, and Coach, and plays around with zany makeup looks. She posts photos with friends and even gets political — her profile description reads “Black Lives Matter”.
But take a closer look at her photos and it’s apparent that the 19-year-old model isn’t what she seems.
Is Lil Miquela a robot?
Lil Miquela is a CGI model created by American startup Brud, which specialises in artificial intelligence and robotics. The Los Angeles-based startup has been funded by VC firms like Sequoia Capital, BoxGroup, and SV Angel.
Though her Instagram account has been active since 2016, it wasn’t until April of this year that Lil Miquela set things straight, posting: “I’m not a human being.”
“You look like a doll,” some comments read. “Why is your hair the same in every photo?” others ask.
“It’s not obvious [she’s a CGI], and it’s not obvious on the post level,” says Jennifer Grygiel, a social media professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, in this CNN article.
She’s not real, but does it even matter?
“When I was growing up, at least we knew Barbie was a doll,” Grygiel continues. “For two years now, there could be people, teenagers especially, who thought [Miquela] maybe was a person. We need the brands to disclose. We need these companies to help so they’re not facilitating and participating in this mass deception.”
It’s not clear if any of her posts have been sponsored, but Brud has profited from Lil Miquela from merchandise — Miquela has collaborated with lifestyle news site Highsnobiety on a US$80 patterned shirt.
Most of Miquela’s followers know that she isn’t real, but that doesn’t stop them from engaging with her as if she’s just another social media influencer. “Slay!” “I wanna be like you.” “Fashion ICON,” they write under her posts.
Frankly, they don’t care. When other social media influencers are curating and photoshopping their feeds to death, what makes Miquela any different? In the age of filters and Facetune, does authenticity matter?
Is Lil Miquela a robot or much more than that? What do you think?
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