#IXD104 Week 9- Manufactured Fictions in the Age of Instagram

This week’s lecture was all about how people can create fake realities on social media and how businesses successfully use nostalgia within advertising.

Deep Fakes

Joining social media apps such as TikTok has become a popular trend for many Hollywood celebrities. It is on these platforms that we are able to gain an insight on our favourite celebrities daily lives. Due to this, no one questioned it when “Tom Cruise” joined the app and made videos of him relaxing in his home etc. However, fans started to then realise that the videos were being posted by an account called DeepTomFakes which was a deepfake account.

A Deepfake is an artificial-intelligence generated video that uses a variety of techniques to create extremely realistic situations that have never happened before in real life.

Whilst it was known that these videos were deepfakes, they were so extremely realistic that commercial tools for recognising deepfake videos scanned these videos and the results came back “authentic, meaning that they did not pick up that the video was fake which is very scary.

It takes a few steps to make a deepfake video. First, you run thousands of face shots of the two people through an AI algorithm called an encoder. The encoder finds and learns similarities between the two faces, and reduces them to their shared common features, compressing the images in the process. A second AI algorithm called a decoder is then taught to recover the faces from the compressed images. Because the faces are different, you train one decoder to recover the first person’s face, and another decoder to recover the second person’s face. To perform the face swap, you simply feed encoded images into the “wrong” decoder. For example, a compressed image of person A’s face is fed into the decoder trained on person B. The decoder then reconstructs the face of person B with the expressions and orientation of face A. For a convincing video, this has to be done on every frame.

Social Media

On platforms like Instagram, almost everything is fake or has been altered to make it look “perfect”. People add filters and use photoshop to edit photos to make them appear the best versions of themselves. This can be damaging as many young people may not realise this is fake and subconsiously start comparing themselves and their lives to “influencers”. This can have a negative impact on mental health even these influencers lives are not how they portray it, leading to young people being constantly unsatisfied with their lives and looks as they are made to believe they are not good enough.

Nostalgia Marketing

Brands from all industries are experimenting with nostalgia marketing — tapping into positive cultural memories from previous decades, designed to drive energy to modern campaigns. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Lego— even Herbal Essenceshaircare products — are just some of the brands that are trying their hands at stepping back in time to reignite campaign strategies of the past. Whether it’s bringing Colonel Sanders back to KFC or engaging millennial gamers with a new Nintendo console, smart brands are maximising nostalgia marketing — and enjoying tremendous results.

In an age of impersonal digital media, building social connectedness through nostalgia is an easy way for companies to leverage the optimistic feelings that often accompany walks down memory lane. Associating brand messaging with positive references from the 90s, 80s — and even the 70s — humanizes brands, forging meaningful connections between the past and present.


Hipstamatic was founded a year before Instagram and introduced the notorious automatic filters for photos. The company pioneered the mobile photography industry as it was the first app that made it possible for everyday users to shoot photos like professional photographers. It also dominated the app market, even though it wasn’t free. It was beloved by amateurs and diehard photographers alike.

However, when Instagram launched, it had the very same features as Hipstamatic — with a minor addition: social media sharing. Instagram quickly gained the upper hand and took center-stage as the world’s first $1 billion buy-out by Facebook only two years after launching.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *