Posts tagged with "Instagram"

Facebook, Instagram will allow political ads that claim the 2020 election was stolen

November 17, 2023

Meta will allow political ads on its platforms to question the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election—part of a rollback in election-related content moderation among major social media platforms over the past year ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential contest, reports CNN.

The policy means that Metathe parent company of Facebook and Instagramwill be able to directly profit from political ads that boost false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. While the company will allow political advertisements to claim that past elections, including the 2020 presidential race, were rigged, it will prohibit those that “call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election.”

The change is part of a year-old policy update but has not been widely reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta’s ads policy had changed on Wednesday, November 15.

Meta says the policy allowing 2020 election denialism in political ads was part of an August 2022 announcement about its approach to last year’s midterm elections, when the company said it would prohibit ads targeting users in the United States, Brazil, Israel, and Italy that discourage people from voting, call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election, or prematurely claim an election victory.

That same month, Meta told The Washington Post that it would not remove posts from political candidates or regular users that claim voter fraud or that the 2020 election was rigged.

Meta’s broader electoral misinformation policy continues to prohibit content that could interfere with people’s ability to participate in voting or the census, such as false claims about the timing of an election, according to the company.

“We wish we could say we were surprised Meta is choosing to profit off of election denialism, but it seems to be a feature of theirs, not a bug,” TJ Ducklo, a representative for the Biden campaign, told CNN in a statement about Meta’s ad policy. “They amplified the lies behind the ‘stop the steal’ movement. Now they’re coming for its cash. Joe Biden won the election in 2020 clearly, unequivocally, and fairly—no matter what Meta choose to promote.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Biden campaign’s statement.

Seprately, Meta said earlier this month that it would require political advertisers around the world to disclose any use of artificial intelligence in their ads, starting next year, as part of a broader move to limit “deepfakes” and other digitally altered misleading content.

The company also said it would prohibit political advertisers from using the its new artificial intelligence tools, which help brands generate text, backgrounds, and other marketing content.

Research contact: @CNN

Colleges teach influencer courses as creators earn $100,000 a year

November 16, 2023

You may notice as you scroll through Instagram or TikTok that a young person is gushing about a cool new product that has made his or her life immeasurably better. Some of those people may be getting paid for that—and colleges are now offering courses to attract students interested in pursuing careers in the emerging field of social influencing, reports Newsweek.

The phenomenon is growing and attracting more entrants as it becomes more lucrative. In April, Goldman Sachs estimated that, over the next five years, the global “creator economy” would grow from $250 billion to $480 billion. The investment bank said that about 4% of creators worldwide earn a decent living, generating income upwards of $100,000 a year.

As more creators and influencers get in on the action, the competition for eyeballs is growing—and those who can build sizeable audiences will flock to places they can choose to work for platforms that can make them money.

“As a result, we expect some element of a ‘flight to quality,’ whereby creators will prioritize platforms with stability, scale, and monetization potential,” Eric Sheridan, Goldman’s senior equity research analyst, says.

Colleges are offering to train those interested in turning their social media presence into money-earning platforms.

UCLA Extension, for example, has a class for Fall 2023 that promises to teach students “how to establish credibility as an expert” and “build a genuine and significant” following using “methods of promoting that expertise through media and messages that match talents and markets” for a $525 for five weeks of classes.

Other colleges have begun to offer such courses—and even majors—focused on training potential influencers, pointing to an interest among students for such training.

Duke University in North Carolina has had a course “Building Global Audiences”, that, according to Bloomberg, taught students how to build up their presence online. Natalia Hauser, who attended the class, told the outlet that she can make thousands from partnerships with brands and found the class helpful in becoming a better business person when dealing with companies.

“I don’t think people understand how much money is in this industry,” Hauser said. “It involves a lot of negotiation and business.”

Professor Aaron Dinin, who taught the class at Duke, believes this is where the world has evolved to as more and more people are glued to their phones and look for information via social media platforms.

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity and a lot of reach,” he told Bloomberg.

Similar courses can be found at campuses around the country, such as at the

Robert Kozinets—who teaches “Influencer Relations” at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California—told ABC‘s Good Morning America in September that his classes look at influencers as a phenomenon and do not give specific instructions on how to be one.

“I don’t think you can teach someone to have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ charisma, and that stage presence,” Kozinets said. “I think what you can teach is the mechanics of some persuasion, understanding contracts, understanding the nuts and bolts of the industry, understanding how all those pieces fit together.”

Success in such an industry comes from the ability of influencers to strike deals with brands, with getting a piece of advertising share or the creation of their own brands for sales as being other avenues for revenue.

YouTube, one of the platforms popular with influencers, generated $35 billion last year for America’s economy through its “creative ecosystem”, according to Oxford Economics.

“YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 390,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the US,” they said. Other platforms that tend to proliferate with influencers include video-friendly platforms, such as Meta‘s Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Goldman Sachs believes that “incumbent platforms” are more popular for creators.

“Goldman Sachs Research sees more creators moving to these platforms as competition heats up for their content and audiences—particularly as macroeconomic uncertainty impacts brand spending and as rising interest rates pressure funding for emerging platforms,” the investment bank said.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Travis Kelce could earn up to $10M thanks to the ‘Taylor Swift effect’

September 29, 2023

Travis Kelce is in his Taylor Swift era—and it could make the Kansas City Chiefs tight end as much as $10 million in off-the-field earnings, a sports marketing expert recently told Insider.

It’s estimated Kelce currently makes around $5 million a year in off-the-field earnings, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doubles that number,” says Bob Dorfman, the Creative Director at marketing agency Pinnacle Advertising, according to the outlet.

“Kelce was already one of football’s most successful endorsers before his hot romance, but now he’s sizzling hot—swiftly grabbing the attention and buying power of a whole new fan base and demographic.”

The 33-year-old “Blank Space” singer has a notoriously loyal —and large—fan base, the “Swifties,” who have been anxiously awaiting the hard launch of Swift’s rumored relationship with Kelce and were overjoyed when the pop icon took sports headlines by storm over the weekend.

Since Swift appeared at the Chiefs-versus-Chicago Bears game on Sunday, September 24, Kelce saw a 400% increase in merchandise sales in the 24 hours after the Chiefs’ 41-10 victory, skyrocketing his No. 87 jersey into the NFL’s top-five best sellers — a result of the so-called “Taylor Swift effect.”

Since Swift appeared at her rumored beau’s game on Sunday, Kelce’s jersey has been among the NFL’s top-five best sellers, and he gained over 300,000 followers on social media.

Thanks to the NFL Players Association, players receive a percentage of the revenue from their jersey sales and any other merchandise that bears their name, image, and likeness.

Although the terms of Kelce’s royalty agreement with the league are unclear, revenue-sharing agreements could earn popular players millions.

Take Tom Brady, for example, who earned a record-breaking $9.5 million in group licensing and marketing income in the 12 months ending February 28, 2022, according to an NFLPA filing with the US Labor Department.

For reference, the player who earned the second-highest amount of royalties was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who earned $3.3 million during the same one-year period.

Meanwhile, Kelce has also seen his social media reach grow by over 300,000 since Sunday.

“New Heights”—the podcast Kelce co-hosts with his older brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce —has jumped to No. 1 on Apple Podcasts and No. 2 on Spotify.

The two-time Super Bowl champ’s recent swell in online success could translate into to big bucks, as brands looking for endorsers pay up according to follower count and engagement.

Kelce’s Instagram, where he goes by @killatrav, boasts over 3.5 million followers as of Thursday, September 28—a figure that could have brands dishing out as much as $500,000 for a single post on Kelce’s feed, according to USA Today.

In addition, “New Heights” jumped to No. 1 on Apple Podcasts and No. 2 on Spotify.

Research contact: @InsiderNews

Meta launches web version of flagging Threads app

August 25, 2023

Meta has launched a web version of its “Twitter killer” social media platform, Threads, that can be used without an app, as it attempts to revive itself after a recent drop in usage, reports The Guardian.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp launched the microblogging site in July—widely understood to be an alternative for users disillusioned with Elon Musk-owned Twitter, which has since rebranded as X.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced the release of the desktop version on Tuesday, August 22 with a photo of his younger self in his dorm room posted on Threads, captioned: “Actual footage of me building Threads for web. Rolling out over the next few days.”

The web browser functionality takes it a step closer to matching what X offers.

Threads experienced an initial boom in sign-ups after it was first launched on July 5, with 100 million new users registering within a week.

However, just three weeks later, the number of users who engaged with the site on a daily basis had dropped significantly. It had a peak of 49 million users shortly after its launch, but on July 22 that had fallen to 12 million active users, according to the Internet traffic analysts Similarweb.

Threads was launched during a period of instability on the then Twitter platform,  during which Musk instituting massive staff cuts, and changes to moderation enforcement and functionality that have prompted a backlash from users and advertisers.

Meta’s answer to Twitter was launched shortly after one of Musk’s widely criticised moves as owner—his decision to cap the daily number of tweets users could view on the platform.

Zuckerburg launched Threads as a new space for real-time updates and to have public conversations, and the interface is similar to X—where users can engage, repost, and like each other’s content.

Research contact: @guardian

Artist creates enchanting miniature scenes every single day for over 12 years

August 23, 2023

Artist Tatsuya Tanaka is a master of miniatures, and his prolific oeuvre sheds light on his vast imagination. We’ve seen him turn masks into pools; toilet rolls, into trains; and even egg shells into Luke Skywalker’s home. These whimsical images are part of Tanaka’s never-ending Miniature Calendar, a project that has seen him create a new scene with household objects and tiny people every single day for over a decade, reports My Modern Met.

Since the artist began the project in 2011, his creative mind has never wavered. Twelve years in and he’s still producing wildly imaginative scenes. Lately, Tanaka has been playing with forced perspective and proportions to produce some truly compelling images. To simulate fireworks illuminating a summer night sky, he used brightly colored fans, which are observed by a miniature couple from their balcony. Meanwhile, a coffee cup doubles as a large drum and a stack of envelopes with windows evokes a villa with swimming pools.

Food is also a common visual throughout Tanaka’s work—whether as inspiration for a scene, or as a part of a landscape. A very sugary looking restaurant comes alive with cupcake cups for tablecloths, chocolate bars for walls and furniture, and even a cookie making up a suitcase. For those who love street food, a cozy stand trades lanterns and chairs for strawberries, while the customers gather around to eat around a pastry.

Tanaka is no stranger to pop culture, and has found inspiration in popular movies and franchises. A bright lemon serves as Batman’s iconic limelight, and the hero stands proudly on top of it after catching the bad guys. The world of Studio Ghibli also has found its way to the artist’s portfolio. In one picture, Tanaka recreates the bathhouse from the film, Spirited Away, with the help of a muffin tray and the addition of its unforgettable characters.

To stay up-to-date with Tanaka’s Miniature Calendar, make sure to follow him on Instagram and to visit his website, where he also publishes his daily images.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Obsessed parents overanalyze photos of their kids at camp

August 18, 2023

Summer sleepaway camps regularly post photos of boys and girls during games, meals, and assemblies—reassuring parents their children are alive and having fun.

But many moms and dads aren’t convinced, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, parents scrutinize every pixel of their child’s expression and body language for clues about his or her emotional state. These parents may want their children to gain independence at camp, but they can’t help poring over photos to see if the kids are smiling, engaged in activities, or circled by friends. Anything less—a child walking alone or caught in a neutral expression—triggers questions and deep analysis.

“It’s an addiction,” said Stacy Johnson, of Manalapan, New Jersey. Every morning, she scrolls through hundreds of photos looking for her 11-year-old daughter Liv; and her son Jace, 8. They go for seven weeks to Camp Chen-A-Wanda in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Johnson is more concerned about Jace, a first-time camper. In a video from a dance party at Camp Chen-A-Wanda, she saw he wasn’t joining the fun. She guessed he was sad because parent-visiting day had ended only a few hours earlier.
Obsessed parents gather evidence from photos to tell their campers via letters and calls to change their shirts or slather on more sunscreen. Others, desperate for information, offer children cash rewards if they try to appear in more camp photos.

Dayna Solomon, of Brooklyn, was disturbed by a photo of her 13-year-old-son Jake, a camper at Susquehannock in Pennsylvania. The boy was shown walking under a bridge made by the outstretched arms of campers. She immediately texted her husband, Seth.

“Hm. He doesn’t look thrilled,” she wrote.

“You’re nuts,” her husband replied. “He looks focused.”

Photo-copter parents hover a far distance from their own parents, who generally dropped them at summer camp with the expectation of maybe a letter or two. Some camps now livestream sports tournaments and other special events on Instagram. 

Heidi Green, a professional photographer in Manhattan who has two campers, created the Instagram account Spot My Kid, which has 1,177 followers. She described her audience as “crazy camp parents who stalk, overanalyze, and treasure every single sighting. (No matter how ridiculous.)” Parents share photos marked with circles and arrows that flag their child in a crowd.

“We’re so desperate for a sign of life that we hold on to any little sign we can find, whether it’s the back of our child’s shoe, the top of their hat, their ear or them all the way in the back of a photo where we have to zoom in 100 times to see them,” Green said.

Tracy Seiler’s son Brody, 10, has been attending Camp Westmont in Pennsylvania since age 9, and he was joined this summer by his 7-year-old twin siblings Ryder and Emmy. As an experienced camp parent Seiler knew not to freak out when she saw a photo of Ryder standing alone at the camp carnival. A couple of summers ago, Seiler, of Marlboro, New Jersey, saw a similar photo of Brody and recalled obsessing that he had no friends.

“Those thoughts build anxiety, and they run away with you,” said Stacy Fleischman, director of business development at Camp Specialists, a service that matches children with camps. She fields calls from clients who sometimes panic about what they infer from photos of their children. “They can make a parent who isn’t anxious become anxious.”

Tyler Hill Camp in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, employs photographers and videographers to document the daily lives of campers. Every age group has its own Instagram account. One videographer posts on TikTok, a new feature this year. The camp’s opening day got around half a million views.

“We live in a different world. Kids coming to camp today are connected to their parents 24/7. All of a sudden that stops and they have an insatiable appetite for knowing what’s going on,” said Wendy Siegel, the camp’s co-owner and director with her husband, Andy. To keep pace with demand, the camp tries to capture at least two photos of each camper every day.

Six years ago, the clamor from parents about what they saw in camp photos prompted an email from Siegel that revealed some of the questions from moms and dads.

 My son isn’t smiling. Please go back and take another of him smiling.

Can you please make sure she knows that the blue tank top with the stripes is to wear at night—not during the day?

Why is my son standing on the outskirts of the group? Do those boys not like him?

 Siegel and her staff now remind parents that if there is a serious concern they will be in touch. Otherwise, she said, she advises them to embrace the philosophy that no news is good news. 

Parents may cherish that their children forgo technology while at camp, but many feel no qualms about using apps like Campanion and its competitors, which use facial recognition to alert moms and dads when a photo of their child surfaces.

Paul Berliner, president of Campanion, said the app was created to help camps manage hiring, payment, medical forms, and profiles. The photo tagging feature was a natural evolution, he said, giving parents a way to more closely share the camp experience.

Johnson, the mother of Liv and Jace, goes through all of the daily camp photos even though she has the app.

“I still want to be a part of camp,” said Johnson, who worked at her own childhood camp into her early 20s. “A Campanion notification goes off and my heart flutters.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Mark Zuckerberg shuts door on cage fight, saying Elon Musk ‘isn’t serious’

August 15, 2023

Mark Zuckerberg has said he is moving on from a rumored cage fight with Elon Musk, claiming the Tesla boss “isn’t serious,” reports The Guardian.

The rival billionaire tech bosses seemingly agreed to a brawl in June when Musk tweeted that he was “up for a cage fight.”

Zuckerberg, who manages Facebook and Instagram, took a screenshot of Musk’s tweet, replying “send me location.” However, on Sunday he said on his other social media platform, Threads: “I think we can all agree Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on.

“I offered a real date. Dana White (Ultimate Fighting Championship boss) offered to make this a legit competition for charity. Elon won’t confirm a date; then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead.

“If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me. Otherwise, time to move on. I’m going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously.”

Musk, the owner of Twitter which he has renamed X, appeared to suggest the fight would be held in an “epic location” in Italy. He outlined streaming options and an ancient setting for the proposed event, claiming he had spoken to the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Tensions have been high between the two tech billionaires’ companies after the launch of Threads, a text-based conversation app, by Zuckerberg’s Meta in July.

Twitter sent a cease-and-desist letter to Zuckerberg after the launch—claiming Meta had made “unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.

Zuckerberg is trained in mixed martial arts, posting about completing his first jiu jitsu tournament earlier this year.

Musk said last week he was training for the fight by lifting weights. He wrote on X: “Don’t have time to work out, so I just bring them to work.”

Research contact: @guardian

Beyoncé’s $157 ‘listening only’ Renaissance Tour tickets—with no view of the stage—spark fan fury

August 4, 2023

From the set design to the energy of those on stage, there’s nothing quite like the immersive experience of watching your favorite artist put on a show. Until now, that is. Beyoncé is charging fans to listen to, but not watch, her Renaissance  tour, reports Fortune Magazine.

Leveraging the popularity of her Renaissance tour, the “Crazy in Love” pop star is now selling “listening only” tickets.

For $157, fans can purchase a seat behind the stage with no view of the star’s show—which is known for its extravagant props, costumes, and dance moves. 

Since May, the former Destiny’s Child icon has been working her way across the globe on her 56-date Renaissance World Tour to promote her seventh studio album. But it wasn’t until now, on the U.S. leg of the tour at the star’s New Jersey show, that fans were given the option to buy the limited-view tickets which are usually available to the blind or visually impaired at a reduced price.

Taken aback by the steep price of the tickets, which offer little more than the experience of listening to the artist at home, fans are criticizing the star for being “detached” from reality.

“@Beyonce is in concert 20 min away at @MetLifeStadium. It’s my birthday weekend. Lowest priced tickets are ~$350 pp for no view, listening-only seats,” one fan wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “I would love to see her in concert but no way I can afford to shell out $700 and not even see [her].” 

“Beyoncé selling $200 tickets for a LISTENING ONLY experience is hysterical. This lady is detached from reality,” wrote another.

“The whole point of going to the concert is seeing her in person and watching the spectacle of the production,” one annoyed fan told The Sun. “It’s ridiculous,” they said. “If I only wanted to hear the concert, I’d stand outside in the car park.”

Listening-only tickets are a fraction of the price of regular ones. The availability of more affordable listening-only tickets for Beyoncé’s first solo tour in seven years comes months after fans in America complained that it is cheaper to buy a plane ticket and see the Renaissance tour in Europe than in their hometown.

Mercedes Arielle saved money by buying tickets for the show in Stockholm, rather than in Dallas. She told NBC News that she paid $366 for VIP concert tickets and her hotel was “essentially free” because of points and miles. Meanwhile, her friends in Dallas forked out a staggering $900 each for tickets alone.

Less than a day after posting about it on Instagram, the video had upwards of 100,000 views and her DMs swelled with hundreds of thank-yous.

“Apparently a whole bunch of Black girls are going to be in Sweden,” she told The Washington Post.

But the surge of fans flocking to the Swedish capital to see Beyoncé put a strain on the economy and experts have since blamed the artist for keeping inflation stubbornly high.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Minted launches a wedding marketplace

August  3, 2023

Alongside other retailers creating wedding e-commerce platforms, Minted has unveiled the Minted Weddings Marketplace—a digital hub for wedding decor, gifts, and accessories from independent creatives—the company announced on Monday, July 31, reports Retail Dive.

Shoppers can browse products such as candles, cards, cake toppers, robes, vow books, and other items. The platform comprises artists and makers from the United States and from more than 100 countries.

Customers also can access the company’s concierge service, which provides advice on wedding challenges such as invitation etiquette and finding party favors. In addition, they can order customized stationery through the platform, according to the announcement.

For Minted, the decision to enter the wedding market marks an expansion of its product assortment and brings another revenue opportunity for the sellers, the company said. In its announcement, the company also mentioned that its customers want their weddings to be visually appealing for their offline and online communities across social platforms, including Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok.

“The integration of a third-party marketplace alongside our first-party business allows us to scale product categories and offerings,” Minted CEO Melissa Kim said in a statement. “Customers can now access a constantly refreshed assortment of accessories, gifts and decor in the same place that they shop for stationery.”

Minted is entering the wedding market as a competitor navigates bankruptcy proceedings. Similarly to Minted, David’s Bridal launched its Pearl by David’s wedding planning tool in January, where shoppers could access advice content, connect with vendors, and earn loyalty incentives. But by springtime, the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it announced plans to lay off more than 9,200 and reduce its store count.

Although David’s Bridal had considered cutting its store footprint, the post-bankruptcy sale of its business has been approved. As part of the deal, the retailer will keep its nearly 200 stores open and retain roughly 7,000 jobs in the United States. Its new owner, Cion Investment Corp., has poured $20 million into the business, according to a July 24 press release.

While David’s Bridal is sorting out its future, another marketplace has entered the wedding market: Etsy. In May, the company introduced an online wedding registry, enabling shoppers to browse handmade goods, vintage and custom products.

Like Minted, Etsy serves as a third-party marketplace platform where artisans can sell their products. However, the merchants have recently boycotted Etsy in response to its policy of withholding 75% of their funds for potential refunds, Pymnts reports.

Research contact: @RetailDive

Freckles used to be a ‘flaw.’ Now people are paying for fake ones.

August 2, 2023

When Hailey Buchanan was a little kid, other children at school teased her for having freckles. She hated it. She came to hate the freckles themselves, reports The Washington Post.

Then, as we all do, Buchanan, 23, grew up; she became an aesthetician and opened her own beauty studio in Puyallup, Washington, called Face Yourself Beauty. And perhaps you can imagine how she felt when she began to see—first on TikTok and Instagram; then, this year, in her own studio—women with spotless, even, doll-like complexions determined to get freckles. “Now,” she says with an incredulous laugh, “it’s, like, the trend.

Earlier this year, Buchanan added semi-permanent fake freckles to her menu of services. The freckles are similar in application to the eyebrow-tattooing procedure known as “microblading,” and can last up to three years before fading. This summer, Buchanan has done the procedure—which can take more than an hour and costs up to $225—for about two clients every week.

America has done a 180 on freckles. Freckle filters started to pop up on Snapchat and Instagram around 2019—adding the tiny sun-dappled dots to a photo subject’s image with the help of machine learning. Since then, technology aimed at adding faux freckles on the actual face has proliferated, in both studios like Buchanan’s and in American beauty-retail chains.

When you search “freckle” on Ulta’s website, the results are a surreal mix of “dark spot clearing” serums and freckle-creation tools. (In the latter group: the Lime Crime Freckle Pen, the Nabla Freckle Maker and a tiny pointed detail brush with a perfectly freckle-sized tip.) And Freck, the self-identified original freckle-pen product introduced in 2017, has become the best-known name in the faux-freckle game, arriving in Sephora stores in 2021.

In a relatively short time, in other words, freckles have transformed from an imperfection to an acceptable trait to, now, a booming cosmetic industry. In part, that’s because attitudes—toward bodies, toward skin, toward certain “flaws”—have changed. It’s also because, despite all that, beauty as a business hasn’t changed; it continues to decide and decree what is beautiful then profit from consumers’ desire to have it.

Freckles have had a bad reputation for pretty much ever, according to Susan Stewart, a Scottish librarian and the author of “Painted Faces: A Colourful History of Cosmetics.” In the 17th century, she notes, “they were considered the mark of the devil.” On a more practical level, too, freckles indicated that a person had been exposed to the sun—suggestive of working outside. “If you had a pale face, you were probably upper class, elite,” Stewart says, “so that’s where makeup came in. White makeup, to cover up [freckles and create] their sort of ideal complexion: pale with a hint of rosy cheeks.”

Makeup artist Jenna Kristina, who added a multitude of faux freckles to actress Zoey Deutch’s face when she was on the cover of Vogue Thailand, tends to think of freckles as similar to a tan. When you come home from a wonderful summer vacation, makeup-free and rested, Kristina says, “you have freckles. And it’s almost like a mark of happiness, a mark of joy, a mark of a good time had.”

Kristina believes certain celebrities with natural freckles have boosted the movement toward acceptance—figures such as Lucy Liu, Gisele Bündchen, Alicia Keys, and model Adwoa Aboah (whose face was the main image in a 2015 Vogue story about Black women who were embracing their freckles).

“I have friends [who] are models and when they were younger, they couldn’t get booked to save their lives,” Kristina says. “Everybody would be like, ‘Can you cover their freckles?’

But ever since the mid-2010s, her freckled friends’ likenesses have been in high demand. Freckled models were likely considered a subversive creative choice at first, but have since been described as a hallmark of the clean, pleasant, naturalistic direct-to-consumer marketing aesthetic that dominated the mid-2010s.

This past spring, Christen Stevenson, a 29-year-old media buyer in Bloomfield, N.J., finally bought a tube of Freck after she and her friends had been exposed to tutorial after tutorial on TikTok for applying fake freckles. With a pointed felt tip like that of a liquid eyeliner, Freck’s freckle pen darkens the skin within seconds. Best practices, according to the website and many users, are to make a natural-looking sequence of spots, give them five to ten seconds; then blot the tiny constellation with a fingertip and “copy-paste” it elsewhere on the face. The technology is easy to navigate; varying size and opaqueness enough to avoid looking like a Cabbage Patch doll is considerably harder.

On days when she doesn’t feel like wearing makeup, Stevenson says, freckles offer a little something extra—a way to enjoy her own face without investing a full-glam amount of time in it. “When everyone’s doing it, you know, you want to do it, too,” she says with a laugh. “I do like it, though. I think they’re cute. I wish they were real.”

That said, Stevenson has no plans to shell out for permanent fake ones. Long-lasting freckle tattoos, she says euphemistically, are “a choice.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost