An “ethical framework” for virtual influencers

As more and more virtual influencers become available and posted online, the number of followers continues to grow. And with the development of the Metaverse, the situation is likely to get complicated, so Meta’s decision to quickly establish ethical limits on their use…

the occurrence of “Synthetic Media” Increasingly, social media is seeing an increase in the number of synthesized versions of real people, also known as deepfakes, and “virtual influencers” (or VI) completely invented.

According to meta:

From synthesized versions of real people to fully invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a growing phenomenon. The meta platform hosts over 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VI’s have huge followers, collaborate with some of the biggest brands in the world, raise money for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.

Most famous are Lil Mikaela with already over 3 million viewers on Instagram, or Shudu with over 200,000 subscribers on the same social network.

They only replace human influencers and are also used for social media marketing purposes. They offer businesses a new way to connect with their digital audience, as they help project the right image to engage and persuade their users.

For example for its global #TeamGalaxy campaign, Samsung teamed up with Lil’ Mikaela to promote their new Galaxy Z Flip phone. Samsung’s main goal for this campaign was to strengthen the relationship between its brand and users of Generation Z and Millennials. And there was no better way to do this than by incorporating one of the world’s most popular virtual avatars, a testament to ever-changing technology.

One of the main benefits of using virtual influencers is their lifespan: they can live forever. Virtual Influencers are the perfect new-age answer to the traditional brand spokesperson. Instead of replacing brand spokespersons every few years, virtual influencers can fill the void left by the constraints of the human age, giving brands the ability to express themselves through a cohesive and adaptable personality for years to come. Is.

Plus, virtual influencers work seamlessly for brands 24/7 in any environment, and follow clear instructions. They also benefit platforms, as they positively affect engagement levels.

However, this major change in the marketing and advertising industry has its drawbacks and limitations.

The meta pointed to a recent fundraising campaign that involved a deepfake of England footballer David Beckham as an example of how the technology has evolved.

Using deepfakes outside a defined regulatory framework creates additional privacy concerns, and their misuse can lead to misrepresentation or unclear representation. Additionally, their unregulated use can alter perceptions about body image and lead to an increase in the mental health issues and eating disorders that afflict the younger generation of women.

This is why with many virtual influencers already in the business, Meta is working to establish ethical limits on their application. The company works with developers and experts to establish clear boundaries for the use of these technologies, to reduce their risks and to take advantage of them wherever they are offered.

To demonstrate the need for protective ground rules and transparency in their use, the company provides examples of how deepfakes and VI can be leveraged.

According to meta:

“Imagine personalized video messages addressed to individual customers by name. Or a famous brand ambassador posing as salespeople at a local car dealership. A famous athlete would be an excellent teacher for a child who loves sports. but hates algebra.

Such use cases will become increasingly the norm as virtual reality and augmented reality technologies expand, with these platforms bringing digital individuals to the forefront and setting new standards for digital connections.

It would be better to know what is real and what is not, and thus Meta needs clear rules to remove dishonest representations and enforce transparency on the use of VI.

Source: Meta

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