Army Condemns, Threatens To Sue Those Sharing Photos Of Slain Personnel On Social Media

File Photo of the Nigerian Army logo.

 

The Nigerian Army has condemned and threatened to sue those involved in sharing the graphic pictures of personnel who paid the supreme price in the cause of defending and protecting the country from its adversaries on social media.

In a statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, “This act is not only unpatriotic but very insensitive and utterly reprehensible”.

According to him, the Nigerian Army considers this despicable and unpatriotic act totally unacceptable and will henceforth take legal actions to protect troops who die in action from being ridiculed on social media or any platform.

“Officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army deployed to various theatres of internal security operations are on legitimate duties and are in the harm’s way to defend and protect the country from those who are intent on destroying it.

[READ ALSO] Insecurity: Reps To Audit Military Assets, Ask Buhari To Declare State Of Emergency

“In the course of carrying out this constitutional mandate, troops put their lives on the line to ensure that innocent citizens and institutions of the state are protected from violent criminals. In some cases, these gallant officers and soldiers are meted with the worst form of savagery by the heartless adversaries whose intent is to instill fear in the citizenry.

“While the Nigerian Army and its personnel understand the nature of the noble calling and are ever ready to confront any danger of adversity on the way, what is most unfathomable is the glee with which some people share the gory pictures of officers and soldiers who are either killed-in-action or Wounded-in-action in the media”, the statement added.

He noted that these unpatriotic acts are often done without any modicum of consideration for the memories of the departed personnel or their family members. “In some cases, their loved ones do find out about their unfortunate death in such callous manner before they are even contacted by the military authorities. One can only imagine the trauma and pain such families go through waking up to see the gory pictures of their loved ones splashed on social media”.

Read Full Statement Below:

PROTEST AGAINST INDISCRIMINATE AND INSENSITIVE SHARING OF GRAPHIC PICTURES OF KILL-IN-ACTION SOLDIERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

The Nigerian Army condemns in the strongest term possible, the indiscriminate sharing on social media of graphic pictures of personnel who paid the supreme price in the cause of defending and protecting the country from its adversaries.

This act is not only unpatriotic but very insensitive and utterly reprehensible.

Officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army deployed to various theatres of internal security operations are on legitimate duties and are in the harm’s way to defend and protect the country from those who are intent on destroying it.

In the course of carrying out this constitutional mandate, troops put their lives on the line to ensure that innocent citizens and institutions of the state are protected from violent criminals. In some cases, these gallant officers and soldiers are meted with the worst form of savagery by the heartless adversaries whose intent is to instill fear on of the citizenry.

While the Nigerian Army and its personnel understand the nature of the noble calling and are ever ready to confront any danger of adversity on the way, what is most unfathomable is the glee with which some people share the gory pictures of officers and soldiers who are either killed-in-action or Wounded-in-action in the media.

These unpatriotic acts are often done without any modicum of consideration for the memories of the departed personnel or their family members. In some cases, their loved ones do find out about their unfortunate death in such callous manner before they are even contacted by the military authorities. One can only imagine the trauma and pain such families go through waking up to see the gory pictures of their loved ones splashed on the social media.

The Nigerian Army consider this despicable and unpatriotic act totally unacceptable and will henceforth take legal actions to protect troops who die in action from being ridiculed on social media or any platform.

Mohammed Yerima
Brigadier General
Director Army Public Relations
27 April 2021

DSS, Police Should Invite People Who Make Unsubstantiated Claims On Social Media – Umahi

A photo showing the logo of the social media and social networking service, Facebook and Twitter on a computer screen.

 

Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, has called on the Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigeria Police to invite Nigerians who make ‘unsubstantiated statements’ on social media to explain reasons for their comments.

The governor who made this comment during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily said this is important to prevent an increase in crime.

“The level of crimes in the country is as a result of unpatriotic acts of a lot of us. We, leaders, we come out on television and then we speak, indict other regions, we speak against other regions, we pick on the leader of the country and then castigate the leader of the country. There is no patriotism at all.

“The way to prevent this thing is that if you are making unsubstantiated statements in the social media, the police, the SSS, you should be invited to explain and this is no politics because the country cannot fold our hands and allow people to plunge the country into another war. This is very important,” Umahi said.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governor noted that these unpatriotic comments are capable of inciting division and might eventually plunge the country into a crisis or lead to war.

“I was told that one of the world wars started with a family quarrel and so if you are making a statement on social media calling it freedom of speech, you must come to the law to substantiate it.

“What I have in the (Ebonyi) State, the communal clash now should have stopped but for the politicians who are making unguarded accusations and statements in the social media and then people outside the state will just cash on that and emotions will arise and the problem will continue.”

Umahi’s reaction comes a week after the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said Twitter chose Ghana as the headquarters for its African operations, due to unpatriotic comments of Nigerians who demarket Nigeria.

Mr Mohammed said the tech giants chose Accra, Ghana over Nigeria because the nation’s West African neighbours are champions of democracy and abide by the rule of law.

“The reasons cited by Twitter for citing the headquarters in Accra, Ghana is that Accra is a champion of democracy and there is rule of law in the country, among other reasons. This is what you get when you de-market your country,” the Minister stated.

Facebook Panel To Review Requests To Remove ‘Harmful’ Content

In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

 

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board announced Tuesday it would start accepting requests to remove “harmful content” that users believe has been wrongly allowed to remain on the leading social network.

The move broadens the mandate of the so-called “supreme court” of Facebook, which up to now had been tasked with reviewing instances of whether content was improperly taken down from Facebook or Instagram.

The Oversight Board, set up by Facebook to deal with contentious questions of content moderation, began operating last year and issued its first rulings in January. The decisions, which can overrule Facebook management, are binding.

“Enabling users to appeal content they want to see removed from Facebook is a significant expansion of the Oversight Board’s capabilities,” said Thomas Hughes, director of the Oversight Board administration.

“The Board was created to ensure that fewer decisions about highly significant content issues be taken by Facebook alone, and that better decisions can be delivered through an independent and transparent process that works to safeguard human rights and freedom of expression. Today’s announcement is another step towards realizing this.”

Users who feel that harmful posts, photos, videos, comments, and shares remain online will be able to appeal to the panel to have it removed.

“We expect everyone on Facebook and Instagram to be able to appeal content left up over the coming weeks,” said Guy Rosen, head of integrity at Facebook.

“We’re glad the Oversight Board is expanding their scope and impact, and look forward to their future decisions and recommendations.”

The board will set up a process including privacy protections for users seeking takedown requests.

Members of the oversight board come from various countries and include jurists, human rights activists, journalists, a Nobel peace laureate, and a former Danish prime minister.

The board is reviewing tens of thousands of cases, including Facebook’s decision to ban former US President Donald Trump.

French Football Legend Thierry Henry Quits Social Media

(FILE) French football legend Thierry Henry looks on during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Atletico Madrid and Monaco at the Wanda Metropolitan stadium in Madri. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

Former French national team striker Thierry Henry has said he is quitting all social media until platforms do more to tackle racism and harassment, becoming the latest celebrity to scale down their online presence over abuse. 

In a statement shared with his combined 14.8 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the former Arsenal player said he would remove himself from all social media as of Saturday.

“The sheer volume of racism, bullying, and resulting mental torture is too toxic to ignore,” he wrote, calling for greater “accountability” online.

“It is far too easy to create an account, use it to bully and harass without consequence and still remain anonymous,” he added.

“Until this changes, I will be disabling my accounts across all social platforms. I’m hoping this happens soon.”

Like many tech giants, Twitter is under increasing scrutiny for facilitating torrents of invective against users, commonly from anonymous accounts, in posts that are often racist or misogynistic.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Kidnap Eight RCCG Members In Kaduna

Henry, the all-time top scorer for France, has long been outspoken on the issue of racism in football and vocal about his own struggles as a high-profile black player.

Twitter said in a statement last week that there was “there is no room for racist abuse” on its platform and that it was working to crack down on abuse against footballers.

But Henry’s decision to quit social media comes just days after another prominent user, American model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen, said she was leaving Twitter after facing abuse.

“It’s time for me to say goodbye,” she wrote in a tweet Wednesday, shortly before deactivating her account, which had more than 13 million followers.

“My desire to be liked and fear of pissing people off has made me somebody you didn’t sign up for, and a different human than I started out here as! Live well, tweeters.”

Twitter Seeks Users’ Opinions On How To Treat World Leaders

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Twitter on Friday began a survey of global users about platform rules for world leaders while consulting human rights and academic specialists on its next policy steps.

The announcement comes after Twitter joined other social networks banning then-president Donald Trump for his comments seen as inciting the violent attack on the US Capitol in January.

The ban was criticized by Trump supporters while others had argued Twitter should have taken action earlier despite its policy of allowing leeway for world leaders and newsworthy posts.

READ ALSO: Twitter To Block Users Who Persist With COVID-19 Lies

“Politicians and government officials are constantly evolving how they use our service, and we want our policies to remain relevant to the ever-changing nature of political discourse on Twitter and protect the health of the public conversation,” the Twitter safety team said in a blog post.

“That’s why we’re reviewing our approach to world leaders and seeking your input.”

Twitter will be asking users their views in a survey in 14 languages, from Friday until April 12.

“Generally, we want to hear from the public on whether or not they believe world leaders should be subject to the same rules as others on Twitter. And, should a world leader violate a rule, what type of enforcement action is appropriate,” the statement said.

“We’re also in the process of consulting with a range of human rights experts, civil society organizations, and academics worldwide whose feedback will be reflected in forthcoming revisions to the policy framework.”

 

AFP

Uganda Regulator Orders Social Media Shutdown Ahead Of Vote

A billboard of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni who is running for his 6th presidential term is seen in Kampala, Uganda, on January 4, 2021. – Uganda gears up for presidential elections which is scheduled to take place on January 14, 2021, as President Yoweri Museveni seeks another term to continue his 35-year rule. (Photo by SUMY SADURNI / AFP)

 

Uganda’s communications regulator has ordered the shutdown of social media and messaging applications, ahead of a highly-charged election on Thursday.

The vote will come after one of the bloodiest campaigns in years, as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni seeks a sixth term against popstar-turned-MP Bobi Wine, who has managed to fire up a youthful population that has mostly known only one president.

Wine, who has spent most of the campaign in a bulletproof vest and combat helmet facing teargas, bullets and numerous arrests, on Tuesday urged his supporters to “protect” the election from rigging.

Despite the 38-year-old’s popularity, few observers believe he can pull off a victory against Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel leader who has ruled since 1986 and effectively crushed any opposition.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were down in the East African nation on Tuesday, after the communications regulator ordered a social media shutdown.

In a letter seen by AFP, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) executive director Irene Sewankambo ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms.

READ ALSO: UN Seeks $35 Million In Emergency Aid For Madagascar

An industry insider who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said that the order was first communicated in “nasty and aggressive” phone calls to the telecommunications companies on Tuesday morning.

The calls made it clear the order was retaliation for Facebook deleting pro-government accounts for seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of the election.

Facebook said Monday that the accounts were linked to the ministry of information and technology.

UCC spokesman Ibrahim Bbosa told AFP: “I am not aware of a directive to switch off internet or social media platforms.”

“There has been slow connectivity on the platforms which can be partly due to heavy traffic as a result of the forthcoming elections” he said.

– ‘Guard the vote’ –

Some 18 million voters are registered for the presidential and parliamentary ballot, which takes place after a chaotic campaign.

Journalists covering opposition rallies have been attacked, government critics locked up, and election monitors prosecuted, raising concerns over the transparency of the electoral process.

Two days of protests in November left 54 people dead.

European Union High Representative Josep Borrell said in a statement calling for a credible vote that “the excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies has seriously tarnished this electoral process.”

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, told journalists his home had been raided and his staff beaten by security forces on Tuesday morning.

He said the ruling party was trying to scare voters away from the ballot box and urged them to record any abuses or irregularities on polling day.

“We are telling you, you will not be breaking the law when you stay and protect your vote. We encourage you to use your phones, use your cameras. Your phone is a very powerful weapon, that camera is very powerful, use it.”

– Young and free –

Wine’s rise has rattled Museveni, who has outlasted all but two of Africa’s long-serving rulers, and watched as ageing strongmen elsewhere on the continent have been ousted in popular, youth-led uprisings.

Mueveni presides over a population with a median age less than 16, that is increasingly urban and educated.

Though he has campaigned under the slogan “securing your future”, the economic boom enjoyed during his early years has faded.

Only 75,000 new jobs are created each year for the 700,000 youth reaching working age, trapping most in poorly-paid farm labour, the World Bank says.

“We want change. There are no jobs, no money, we can’t go to study and when we go to the hospital, there is no medicine,” said 23-year-old Dorah Wasswa, hawking cheap wares on a pot-holed Kampala street.

– ‘We are too many’ –

A wily strategist, Museveni has outfoxed challengers to remain firmly in control, though analysts say his position is largely assured through patronage and force, rather than popular appeal.

He confronts in this election a divided opposition, with 10 candidates tackling him individually rather than presenting a united front.

Uganda is experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases and the United Nations and rights watchdogs say special election measures to contain the pandemic have been weaponised to browbeat Museveni’s opponents while leaving the ruling party untouched.

Wine says his supporters are “peaceful but assertive” and vows nonviolent protest should the election appear rigged.

“We come with only words. He (Museveni) comes to us with bullets, bombs, grenades and teargas. We are non-violent. We are just too many for him,” Wine told AFP in a recent interview.

 

Facebook Anti-trust Suits Seek To Separate Instagram, Whatsapp

 

US federal and state anti-trust enforcers filed suit against Facebook on Wednesday claiming the social media giant abused its dominant position with its acquisitions of messaging services Instagram and WhatsApp.

Separate suits filed by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of state officials called for the divestment of Instagram and WhatsApp, services which have billions of users and are part of the Facebook “family” of applications.

“Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

“Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

A separate legal action was filed by state antitrust enforcers from 48 US states and territories.

“For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,” said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who leads the coalition.

“Facebook used its power to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow.”

The suits allege Facebook sought to squelch competition by acquiring the messaging applications — Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

The action presages a fierce court battle seeking to force Facebook to divest the apps which have become an increasingly important element of the business model of the California giant and integrated into its technology.

Facebook said it would offer a detailed response after reviewing the cases but added: “Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day.”

Data Advantages

The case is likely to hinge not only on Facebook’s share of social media users but the vast troves of data it collects from some three billion users worldwide.

“Facebook has been spending its time surveilling users’ personal information and profiting from it,” James said.

“No company should have this much unchecked power over our personal information, and our social interactions.”

Tiffany Li, a Boston University law professor who studies the sector, said that while Facebook has rivals bidding for internet users’ attention it has a big advantage because of its access to data.

“One company owning multiple platforms is not, in itself, necessarily a bar to competition,” Li said on Twitter.

“However, one company having exclusive ownership of vast amounts of user data, with no potential for interoperability or access to competitors, can be anti-competitive.”

Li added that new startups “have an uphill battle to reach users due to network effects, even if they have better products.”

The FTC announced earlier this year it would review acquisitions made by five Big Tech firms over the past decade, opening the door to a wave of potential antitrust investigations.

The consumer protection agency said it would review deals made by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet since 2010 amid growing complaints about tech platforms which have dominated key economic sectors.

The US Justice Department, which shares antitrust enforcement with the FTC, in October sued Google parent Alphabet, accusing the Silicon Valley giant of maintaining an “illegal monopoly” in online search and advertising and opening the door to a potential breakup. Eleven US states joined that case.

Scrutiny has been increasing for the large tech firms which have extended their dominance in recent years, including during the global pandemic as more people turn to internet platforms for goods and services.

‘There Must Be Gatekeepers’: Gov Akeredolu Defends Calls For Social Media Regulation

 

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has defended calls for the regulation of social media and is advocating the use of gatekeepers to sieve content before they are published

“There must be gatekeepers. Yes, you want to publish any news you like, there must be gatekeepers using technology that will be able to at least, sieve what is right and what is wrong,” the governor said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday while explaining part of the communique issued by the South-West Governors’ Forum after a meeting held last week.

READ ALSO: SERAP Threatens To Sue Northern Governors, NASS Over Social Media Bill

The Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum blamed fake news for the destruction of properties by hoodlums in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests. He explained that no government would allow fake news to take over the cyberspace.

A file photo of cars burnt by hoodlums during the violence in Lagos on October 21, 2020.

 

“When the hoodlums took over, a lot of fake news were fed to the public. People were reacting to it,” the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, 64, added. “False news were fed to the public, they reacted to it. It led to the destruction of properties, Lagos, Akure, everywhere.”

READ ALSO: [‘The Timing Is Suspicious’:] NBA President Faults Moves To Regulate Social Media

According to him, “if we cannot be disciplined enough to be able to know that we don’t churn out news that can cause a lot of damage in the society, then the government itself must be proactive enough to find a way to control it.”

While explaining that the planned restrictions on social media would not affect personal conversations, the governor who recently secured a second term in office, said social media is already regulated in places like China and Russia.

READ ALSO: #EndSARS Protesters Used Social Media To Escalate Tensions, Monguno Claims

“They won’t restrict my personal conversations, they would not restrict what I am saying to my friends but if I want to take out news and say that thousands have been killed in Lekki Toll Gate for instance, then before it comes out, I must have evidence of people who died on the ground,” Akeredolu noted.

“Show me and if it is not there, I will say to you cannot use my band to propagate such news item. That is what we are saying.”

 

 

#EndSARS: Northern Governors Call For Control Of Social Media

 

Northern governors have joined calls for the control of social media, as part of efforts to combat fake news in the country.

Governors of the 19 states made the call on Monday when they met with traditional rulers from the region, the Inspector General of Police and the President of the Senate, to discuss the issues of insecurity and other socio-economic challenges.

Read Also: #EndSARS Protest: Northern Govs Condemn Calls For Regime Change

In a communique read by the Chairman of the forum who is the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, the northern governors lamented over what they described as the devastating effect of uncontrolled social media in spreading of fake news and in turn, fuelling crisis.

They also rejected and condemned the subversive actions of the #EndSARS protesters. Particularly the superlative agitations for a regime change which according to them is outside the legal democratic process.

More to follow.

#EndSARS Protesters Used Social Media To Escalate Tensions, Monguno Claims

FG Denies Alleged Plot To Shutdown Internet During Elections
A file photo of the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).

 

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired Major General Babagana Monguno, believes the #EndSARS protesters used social media as a means to escalate tensions in the country, with the spread of subversive content.

He stated this on Wednesday at a workshop on the review of the Draft National Cybersecurity Strategy 2020 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Monguno, who was represented at the event by Mr Aliyu Mohammed, the Permanent Secretary (Special Services) at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, claimed that the protests were of noble intentions but ended up using social media platforms to disseminate seditious comments.

“We are witnesses to the use of social media to disseminate subversive content to incite violence and heightened tension, causing unrest and sparking widespread looting and destruction across the country,” he said. 

The NSA was, however, quick to note that cyberspace showed numerous potentials and the Federal Government intended to harness and progressively use the digital revolution to its maximum.

He added, “Our country is currently at a turning point in its history; a significant section of our population of over 200 million people are young and entrepreneurs.

“We are also witnessing a rapid rise in our adoption of the internet in our daily lives.”

Also present at the workshop was the ICT Director at the Ministry of Science and Technology,  Idowu Afe, who stated that the draft would be of immense advantage to the Nigerian digital sphere.

“The committee is hoping to complete work on the document over the next few days and pass the draft document to the President for his approval.

“The document is expected to contribute to the growth of the nation’s digital technology,” Afe told the audience at the event.

The Senate introduced the Anti-Social Media Bill in November 2019 to mitigate the use of social media in spreading false information.

But the bill faced opposition from human rights activists and Nigerians who condemned it, insisting that it was a means for the government to gag freedom of speech.

Twitter Investigating Global Platform Outage

In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Microblogging and social networking service, Twitter says it is working to resolve a global outage of the platform used by hundreds of millions worldwide.

The outage which started on Thursday evening marked a new setback for the network, which is fending off accusations of bias over the decision to block a news report critical of Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden.

“We know people are having trouble tweeting and using Twitter. We’re working to fix this issue as quickly as possible,” a company spokesperson told AFP at 2225 GMT.

Read Also: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Backs Nigeria’s #EndSARS Protest, Calls For Bitcoin Donations

Repeated attempts to post a tweet were greeted with the message: “Something went wrong, but don’t fret — let’s give it another shot.”

According to downdetector.com, users on every continent had reported being unable to use the platform, but the outages were concentrated on the east and west coasts of the United States, as well as Japan.

The outage appeared to have started around 21:30 GMT.

“We are continuing to monitor as our teams investigate. More updates to come,” Twitter’s application programming interface site said.

‘I Selfie, Therefore I Am’: Instagram 10 Years On

This picture taken on September 28, 2020 shows the logo of the social network Instagram on a smartphone and a tablet screen in Toulouse, southwestern France. – The Instagram group will, in early October 2020, celebrate its ten-year anniversary. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

#Foodporn, #nofilter, and #TBT: Little known to the general public a decade ago, Instagram has weaved its way into the daily lives of a billion people, changing the way we eat, travel, and consume.

On October 6, 2010, two Americans, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, launched Instagram as a social network dedicated to photo sharing. The novelty? The app offered filters to adjust brightness, contrast, and colour to create the perfect photo in an instant.

It had immediate success. The app was bought by Facebook two years after its launch, and by that time it had become the world’s most popular platform for uploading endless streams of selfies and had its own stars, Instagirls such as fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni with 21 million followers and Kylie Jenner of the Kardashian clan with 196 million followers.

Exhibitions, dinners, people on public transport, or on vacation, every corner had become a backdrop for capturing a self-portrait for public consumption.

“We have entered the era of ‘the internet reality’ where one can only exist through what one publishes on social networks. I selfie, therefore I am,” said Michael Stora, psychologist and president of the French research collective Observatory of Digital Worlds in Humanities (OMNSH).

Ten years on from its launch, Instagram has evolved far beyond selfies, as it redefines “experiences” and blurs the lines between reality and someone’s carefully curated personal brand.

Virtual storefronts

The success of Instagram and selfies didn’t escape the notice of brands. One of the top selfies of the 2014 Oscars including a beaming Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lawrence, and Brad Pitt was taken on a smartphone made by event sponsor Samsung.

The app has become the preferred platform for luxury brands, particularly fast-fashion labels which have developed powerful digital marketing strategies to attract millions of users on the platform.

A shopping function introduced last year has turned Instagram into an e-commerce site, allowing companies to use their profiles as virtual storefronts so users can shop and pay without ever leaving the app.

It has also launched countless careers of digital “influencers” who churn out daily content to their loyal followers, striking endorsement deals along the way.

“They send me the product and I provide all the service around it… Brands no longer need to call on an advertising agency. We take care of everything,” said Pauline Privez, a 36-year-old fashion and beauty influencer since 2009.

Instagram has also made luxury brands more accessible, as they are able to interact daily with users through their own accounts, said fashion historian Audrey Millet.

“By freely publishing content they open up to everyone, shedding the image of snobbery that has been attached to them,” Millet said.

Travel guides

The application has also revolutionised the dining experience.

Restaurateurs can count on carefully staged photos of their dishes, or moody shots within their cosy interiors to attract new clients. It is even possible to reserve a table at some restaurants directly through the app.

Instagram has become a place to search for inspiration in the kitchen, where anyone can access the recipes of famous chefs who have invested heavily in the platform, such as Jamie Oliver who is followed by 8.3 million people and posts new recipes daily.

Maelle Bourras, a Parisian in her 30s, follows “about 15 chefs” including Alain Passard, who has half a million subscribers, and Cyril Lignac, with 2.5 million.

“On weekends I try to reproduce some of their creations. It’s free and accessible, and allows me to vary from the usual dishes,” Bourras said.

Others use Instagram to choose their next vacation, and tourist offices rely heavily on content creators to promote their destinations.

Digital influencers like Privez publish their “experiences” and in return are paid, in addition to the free trips.

Privez, who has 140,000 subscribers, makes between six and seven “sponsored trips” per year, “not counting the two-day press trips”, she said.

Around the world, museums and pop-up “experiences” are increasingly offering interactive installations solely for visitors to take selfies and post them on Instagram and other social media platforms.

 Pressure for perfection

Not all social media celebrities are in it for the money. Sylvain Hawawini, known as Dr Shawa Vet to his 107,000 followers, poses with animals in hundreds of photos from locations around the world, so that others can “discover landscapes or places still little known”.

The insatiable quest for Instagram “likes” has made the platform addictive for some, and can have devastating effects, particularly for younger people, said psychologist Stora.

Instagram gives teenagers a false sense of reality and pressure for perfection “that they cannot live up to”, he said.

Influencers can feel the pressure as well.

“I am forced to stay with it for my professional life, but in my personal life, I am becoming more and more detached from it,” Privez said.