Posts tagged Social Media

The Beauty Paradox: how we learned to love everyone but ourselves

The past ten years have seen massive advances in beauty and diversity. When Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, it sent shockwaves through a media landscape where putting non-models on billboards was practically unheard of. Dove’s Real Women became the icons of a new awareness of the power of healthy role models.

But, as recent research conducted by Dove and Canvas8 revealed, in 2014 a beauty paradox is at play: despite increasing tolerance, women are still their own worst critics. In fact they’ve become even worse critics. Our survey results show women believe society to be more accepting of different shapes, ages, disabilities and ethnicities today than ten years ago. And yet more than a quarter describe themselves as unsatisfied with their appearance, up from 21% in 2004.

So why is this happening and how will it evolve? We identified four behavioural trends that drove the evolution of beauty from 2004 to 2014 and left us living with The Beauty Paradox.

From Be This Way to Born This Way
With the internet expanding the canvas for self-expression, beauty shifted its focus from establishing rules to expressing individuality. Beauty icons who sit outside of conventional ideals sprang up throughout the decade, from Beth Ditto to androgynous model Andrej Pejic.

Pick and Mix Creativity
Technology put creative tools in the hands of everyday women and gave them access to an eclectic range of influences. Scrapbooking sites and photo-sharing apps have made eclecticism and experimentation second nature, and seen mainstream beauty shift from conformist to creative.

Beyond Skin Deep
Beauty in 2004 was focussed on a glitzy, paparazzi-driven idea of surface glamour. Economic uncertainty and social media encouraged a reassessment of values; a multi-dimensional ideal of beauty emerged. Beauty icons like Cara Delevingne are celebrated as much for their character as their model looks.

Life On Display
In 2014, we are more visible than ever. 65% of the UK public own smartphones, and 31 million are Facebook users. Where once we consumed media, now we are media.

What will beauty look like in 2024?
Due to advances in technology over the past decade, our media landscape has been reorganised – and enabled a reassessment of what we celebrate as beautiful; one that’s still evolving. And yet, at the same time, smartphones and social-media have undeniably intensified our relationship with our own appearance.

If enlightened beauty ideals are opening our minds to a more expansive idea of beauty, it seems they still have a way to go if they are to combat the inevitable self-consciousness and criticism that comes with life lived constantly on display.

Find out how these trends will evolve over the next ten years in the full report at


Instacartel: life online as a Mexican gang member

The internet is celebrated for empowering the individual, albeit spurring a culture of oversharing in the process. Yet while in the West this equates to documenting dinner on Instagram or one too many tweets about Game of Thrones, in Mexico, young cartel members are harnessing social media to intimidate targets and post selfies with AK-47s.

Last week, Mexican Kim Kardashian lookalike and suspected cartel queen Claudia Ochoa Felix was outed in the media for affiliations with the infamous Sinaloa cartel. From reclining amongst a gang of masked gunmen with a red-lipped pout, to posing cross-legged in a skin-tight mini dress balancing an M16 across her knees, her Instagram account – from which her photos have now been deleted – was unapologetically incriminating.

But while she – and many of the young people involved in cartels – seem to be using social media to document the highlights of their lives, there are more sinister uses for it, too. From sending messages to rival cartels (like the Facebook beheading video posted to scare the Gulf Cartel in late 2013) to keeping locals in line, social media has become so integrated into daily life that many see it as no less subtle than carrying out criminal acts in the flesh. Look no further than the ‘weed4sale’ and ‘purpledrank’ hashtags American drug dealers use on Instagram, or the fact that the Yakuza’s most notorious family has launched a PR campaign complete with a recruitment website.

But the social media presence of Mexican cartels is the product of a unique set of factors, not least of which is the rapid adoption of online – there are now 35 million Mexicans using the internet regularly. “You’ve seen an increase in this kind of thing as Mexico has become more wired,” explains Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow in Latin American studies for the Council on Foreign Relations. “The members of the drug cartels are younger. It’s a demographic very comfortable being online.” And with a notoriously lax law enforcement (police officers are paid just $9,000 annually), subtlety isn’t seen as a requirement for lawbreakers – online or offline. As O’Neil aptly notes, “if they can drive around Ciudad Juarez with an AK-47 hanging on their door, why should they worry about posting on Twitter?”

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From Twitter to WhatsApp: how social is too social?

"Look up from your phone, shut down the display. Take in your surroundings, make the most of today.” While this may sound like a Dr Seuss rhyme, it’s actually a call to action by British filmmaker Gary Turk. In an emotionally charged video, Turk urges people to unplug from their smartphones, turn off social media, and have a real conversation with the person in front of them.

The five-minute video raises questions about how much of our lives we spend online, and the impact it’s taking on the real world. “I looked around and realised that this media we call social is anything but,” he continues. “When we open our computers it’s our doors we shut.” And with almost 20 million views in just over a week, the video has been well-received, tweeted by everyone from tennis player Andy Murray to American Idol winner Jordin Sparks.

An obsession with the latest gadgets and apps keeps us preoccupied at all hours of the day, whether walking down the street or riding the bus. In turn, a growing number of people are growing concerned at the strength of this digital tide. More than a third of British adults admit that they’re “highly addicted” to their smartphones, while research shows that heavy smartphone usage is ruining many people’s personal relationships.

This disillusionment with technology has led many to seek a solution. While Los Angeles chef Mark Gold offers diners a 5% discount in his restaurant if they dump their digital devices at the door, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will throw anyone out who dares use their phone while the film is playing. In the US people are even paying for expensive retreats to escape technology. The aptly named Digital Detox invites people to eat vegan food, practice yoga and keep a journal about being offline.

And while it’s been critiqued as “a cheesy poem [presenting] an overdramatised strawman argument”, Gary Turk’s video does provoke debate over the benefits of living in an age of hyperconnectivity. While it might be a little sentimental, his depiction of an over-connected online generation is resonating with these “robots” across the world.

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Is flight MH370 the last mystery of the digital age?


Was flight MH370 hijacked by terrorists? Did the pilot kill himself? Or was the whole plane swallowed by a black hole? When Malaysia Airlines reported that they’d lost contact with the Boeing 777 – which departed Kuala Lumpur on March 7th – it didn’t take long for the internet to respond. Uninformed speculation fuelled wild accusations and conspiracy theories, which unfolded in the following days like an erratically-written TV show.

A pilot came forward with the more believable theory of an electrical fire, backed up by a number of situational factors. But the disbelief that an entire plane could simply go ‘off radar’ buffered a frenzied media storm. Psychologists point out that people are inclined to see ambiguous events as the product of someone’s intentions rather than as accidental. And in a technological world, where everything is measurable and transparent, the prospect of a whole plane disappearing along with 239 passengers is unfathomable. As journalist Scott Mayerowitz aptly notes, “there aren’t supposed to be any mysteries in the digital age.


With so many sources adding their voice to the narrative – from the population of Reddit to Courtney Love – establishing the truth is harder than ever. The World Economic Forum has flagged up this phenomenon as “a global risk of massive digital misinformation which could wreak havoc in the real world.” And there are real victims: consider Sunil Tripathi, the 22-year-old who was falsely accused of orchestrating the Boston bombings by millions of online spectators.” False information is particularly pervasive on social media,” agrees Walter Quattrociocchi of Northeastern University in Boston. “It fosters a sort of collective credulity.

As the story of flight MH370 continues to unfold before us, fresh speculation won’t be far behind. But it’s worth noting that the amount of shares a theory has won’t always align with how plausible it is. The truth has become a proverbial needle amid a haystack of shrewd, satirical and misinformed voices, but a healthy information diet can make all the difference between understanding and ignorance.

Intimate strangers: how Ellen Degeneres got three million retweets

It was the most retweeted tweet ever. Breaking off from her presenting duties, Oscars host Ellen Degeneres descended into the audience for the ultimate selfie, gathering together a gang of A-listers and handing Bradley Cooper her Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Slightly blurred and a little off-centre, but undeniably high-spirited, it’s now been retweeted over 3 million times. But speculation has since arisen about the authenticity of the gesture. Was this supposedly ‘spontaneous’ moment in fact a slick piece of product placement by a major Oscar sponsor?

Not according to Samsung, who claim the selfie was “a great surprise”. Awkward, when Wall Street Journal claims Samsung paid to have their product integrated into the show. Elsewhere, internet users were quick to pick up on the fact that while Ellen’s on-stage selfies carried a ‘Twitter for Android’ tag, while her regular backstage tweets were ‘Twitter for iPhone’.

But does anyone truly care either way? Polished images of the ceremony and its stars were beamed to televisions and computers worldwide instantly, but only selfies could provide that insider viewpoint onlookers were clamouring for: a peek through the back window, paid for or not.

Smartphones have created the illusion of direct contact between celebrity and fan – opening up a seductive new space that sits between the glossy distance of television and the complexity of ‘real world’ interaction. “The relationship [between celebrities and fans] is based on an illusion of intimacy,” writes Richard Schickel in Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity. “It’s the creation of an ever-tightening, ever more finely spun media mesh.” 

Even Ellen, a Twitter giant whose easy authenticity is her stock in trade, plays around in the murky waters of mediated ‘reality’ to keep her fans feeling close. Take the cluster of backstage tweets she posted using ‘Adobe Social’. The most likely reason? Her assistants were storing them up in advance and scheduling them to go live at just the right time.

Facebook Statistics

15 Facebook stats courtesy of Experian

  1. received 9% of all US Internet visits in April 2012.
  2. received more than 1.6 billion visits a week and averaged more than 229 million US visits a day for the year-to-date.
  3. 1 in every 5 page views in the US occurred on
  4. has received more than 400 billion page views this year in the US.
  5. The average visit time on is 20 minutes.
  6. The audience skews more female (56%) than male.
  7. became the #1 ranked website in the US on March 9, 2010.
  8. The term ‘Facebook’ is the most searched term in the US and has been for the past three years, starting the week ending July 18, 2009.
  9. Facebook-related terms account for 6% of the top searched terms in the US and Facebook-related terms made up 4 of the top 10 US searches (among the top 100 search terms for the 4 weeks ending May 12, 2012).
  10. users are highly loyal to the website; 96% of visitors to were returning (defined as visited within past 30 days) visitors in April 2012.
  11. 10 states account for 52% of visits to – California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina based on year-to-date average.
  12. The top states where users are more likely to visit versus the online population are: West Virginia, Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama based on year-to-date average.
  13. The New York City DMA provides the largest volume of traffic to and the Charleston, WV DMA is the area where users are most likely to visit compared to the online population.
  14. is the top social networking site in the US, Canada, UK, Brazil, France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore markets.
  15. is the top overall site in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. ranks 2nd in the UK, Brazil, France and Australia.
Canvas8’s next event on 20th June will welcome Andrew Keen, author of the social media exposé Digital Vertigo, who will discuss the future of social engagement for brands.
Andrew will address the consequences of our connected world and provide a compelling counter-argument to grandiose social media claims. His unique interrogation is a cautionary tale for brands, forcing them to reconsider the legitimacy - and even necessity - of their social media campaigns.
Sir Martin Sorrell described Digital Vertigo “as one of the few books on the subject that, twenty years from now, will be seen to have got it right.”
Tickets are strictly limited and are available here.

Canvas8’s next event on 20th June will welcome Andrew Keen, author of the social media exposé Digital Vertigo, who will discuss the future of social engagement for brands.

Andrew will address the consequences of our connected world and provide a compelling counter-argument to grandiose social media claims. His unique interrogation is a cautionary tale for brands, forcing them to reconsider the legitimacy - and even necessity - of their social media campaigns.

Sir Martin Sorrell described Digital Vertigo “as one of the few books on the subject that, twenty years from now, will be seen to have got it right.”

Tickets are strictly limited and are available here.

If you’re a charity, don’t ask for money on social media.

The Klout backlash

This article on describes the growing frustrations with Klout, the online influence-measuring and rewards platform. In a world where Justin Bieber is perceived to be more influential than Barack Obama, and where your Klout score can determine your success in the job market, it is little wonder that people are beginning to appreciate the pitfalls of gaming social media in order to gain greater influence and respect. As the article’s author Seth Stevenson points out:

[On social media] the un-Kloutiest’s thoughts, jokes, and bubbles of honest emotion felt rawer, more authentic, and blissfully oblivious to the herd. Like unloved TV shows, these people had low Nielsen ratings—no brand would ever bother to advertise on their channels. And yet, these were the people I paid the most attention to. They were unique and genuine. That may not matter to marketers, and it may not win them much Klout. But it makes them a lot more interesting.

What Your Klout Score Really Means

We are all media. We’ve been saying it for a while, but every once in a while, a great set of pictures come along and say it for you, elegantly, and simply.

To learn more about influence, Klout, people as media and all that jazz, Canvas8 members can click here (oh, and you don’t need a high Klout score)

Social media, free speech and hate crime

This thought-provoking article on discusses the issues surrounding two recent cases of social media being used as a forum for expressing offensive and hateful opinions:

"…obviously people act differently on social media to how they do in real life. When you hold court in the pub with friends, it is still essentially a private act. You can perform in the same way and fulfil the same need to share ideas or thoughts on social media, but to several hundred people and potentially the world."

Whatever your opinions on the individual cases discussed, it is clear that there is a need for legislation to keep pace with the rapidly evolving ways in which social media is used and interpreted. And as the article points out, there is a huge contextual difference between traditional publishing and forums such as Twitter and Facebook.

As our relationship with the media changes and individuals become empowered to broadcast their opinions - however misguided - to the rest of the world, the debate around freedom of speech, censorship and fundamental human decency looks set to dominate social media discourse in the near future. And it will be a fascinating debate to follow.