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Meet the CGI influencers that are fooling everyone on Instagram

The fakest influencers on Instagram.

IN A YEAR that saw the mistrust of influencers reach an all-time high here in Ireland, there’s a growing trend that could change everything.

miquela Source: Instagram/LilMiquela

The questions around what is real and what is not on social media are constant, nowhere more so than right here at home. 

From TheBullshitterCallerOuter to Bloggers Unveiled, the commentary around the online community this year was mostly negative and a lot of that had to do with transparency and reality.

Followers felt their trust was broken by the social media tactics used by a select group of influencers, from heavily Photoshopped images to the paid campaigns they would get as a result of those images.

However, a new genre of social media influencers could further break down the barriers between what’s real, what is not, and why that even matters – and so far, people seem to be OK with it.

CGI influencers are growing their followers by the hundreds of thousands but not everyone even realises they’re not real.

c7db686ccdef7a1742e6373718471f42 Source: Instagram/bermudaisbae

Back in April 2016, Lil Miquela uploaded her first post to Instagram and introduced the world to a seemingly normal 19-year-old Brazilian-American.

Miquela wore designer clothing and posed in the coolest locations, and oftentimes used her platform to make a statement about movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

c9bc5ab4c9e388f62389217925a8d16b Source: Instagram/LilMiquela

Since then, Miquela has amassed a following of 1.5million(!!) people and she doesn’t even exist.

Yes, Lil Miquela is a computer generated image and is responsible for the ever-growing trend of CGI influencers.

This year, Miquela was named one of Time’s ‘Most Influential People on the Internet’ further solidifying the place of CGI influencers online.

She has appeared in fashion magazines such as V, Paper  and even Vogue, and often shares pictures with her celebrity ‘friends’ Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Tracee Ellis Ross and even Prince Charles. 

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68c0e484da79127976d8c8ab86e584cc Source: Instagram/LilMiquela

But she’s no longer the only one.

Six months after Miquela first appeared online, another Instagram account was created for Bermuda.

Bermuda, another CGI influencer, also gained (and lost) followers because of her strong message.

Initially she was a hard-core Trump supported who used her ever-growing platform to promote the then-presidential candidate.

2ec699bdbed379b5ccab6a470f935c4a Source: Instagram/BermudaIsBae

Since then, her profile and her image has changed considerably. 

Bermuda and Miquela are also friends, often appearing on each other’s feeds.

However, they have ‘beef’. Yep, even when you’re fake as f**k you can fall out with your mates.

In 2017, Bermuda hacked Miquela’s Instagram page (remember, there are people behind the influencers at play here) and called her out for not telling her followers ‘the truth’.

Miquela never openly disclosed that she was CGI, although most people could figure that out for themselves. Bermuda, however, was always ‘transparent’ with her followers and demanded the same from her much more popular counterpart.

We know, bat-shit crazy.

Since then, Bermuda has had a bit of a facelift (albeit through Photoshop) and now boasts an incredible 121,000 followers.

e6670f1ccd1987c0f59b6253e1176c94 Source: Instagram/BermudaIsBae

e92d92e6f9197c1fc75a3061616813bc Source: Instagram/BermudaIsBae

Then there is Blawko who also lives in Miquela and Bermuda’s world and was created in November of last year.

Another CGI influencer, Blawko even played the role of Bermuda’s boyfriend and has managed to stay friends with his now-ex.

fe99e5afa90cbaf2ead15f83dad83c6a Source: Instagram/Blawko22

Bermuda and Miquela often feature on his Instagram page but unlike the others, Blawko also shares content on a YouTube channel.

Yep, the Instagram star with 135,000 followers posts videos that don’t look out of place on YouTube and is starting to expand the world of CGI models.

Blawko does not look as real as his female-counterparts, but that hasn’t stopped him steadily growing his followers.

The story behind Miquela, Bermuda and Blawko and how they were created is a fairly tangled web, with the people that have been linked to their creation spinning weird stories that only add to the confusion of the CGI influencer world.

72034eb76c3eeb8faf031f15574da7cd Source: Instagram/Blawko22

179c0e688c714fcd302f2e9d2e32c93c Source: Instagram/Blawko22

One CGI Instagram star whose back-story is much easier to understand in Shudu.

Shudu is the ‘world’s first digital supermodel’ and was created by visual artist and photographer Cameron-James Wilson.

While Cameron has always been open with Shudu’s followers that she is fake, that hasn’t stopped people questioning just that.

34ba5e93bfd965f7f4ab82d9cc53fcad Source: Instagram/Shudu.Gram

She is by far the most realistic looking CGI influencer out there and that has led to an incredibly successful modeling career.

Shudu has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Vogue and has been used to promote Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Balmain.  

Speaking of his creation which now has over 150K followers, Wilson says:

“I love styling, and I love design, and I love makeup. These are things that I love and love to incorporate in my art,” he told Cosmopolitan.

“Whenever I create an image of Shudu it’s an expression of all the things that I love and enjoy.”

Wilson has received some harsh criticism for his CGI mode, though.

Many have accused him of ‘profiting off of black women’, however, Wilson says he has never made money from Shudu but more uses the project as a way to encourage diversity in the fashion industry.

ba99dae1ed8e587e6f4949942aebb6b2 Source: Instagram/Shudu.Gram

a70e1fa4a94533c5ff998b44256f5615 Source: Instagram/Shudu.Gram

With the huge success creators have had with the likes of Miquela and Shudu, an increasing number of CGI influencers have started to appear from Lil Wavi to Brenn, the second CGI model from Wilsons ‘all digital modelling agency’.

The continued growth of these profiles have led to increasingly blurred lines between reality or the portrayal of it online. 

While many are uncomfortable about the existence of these virtual influencers and the effects they will have, others struggle to see the harm and wonder how they differ from many of the heavily-edited accounts that already exist online. 

So, the next time you see someone (or something) that looks too perfect to be real on Instagram, there could be a lot more than just some Facetuning at work.

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