Believe it or not, we now have "virtual influencers." As in social media influencers that are not real people.
· Nov 2, 2020 ·

Sure, why not, might as well pile on.

In case you didn't know, "digital influencers" are individuals with large social media followings who can sway the purchasing decisions of consumers.

Sure, they are largely insufferable narcissists whose only sustenance comes from subscriber counts and likes, but they are otherwise harmless to people with lives grounded in real human relationships.

Once marketers figured out that these influencers could get people to buy their products, and the influencers realized they could profit from it, the whole exercise developed a rather shady side. It's difficult to tell whether you‘re getting an honest opinion from someone whose Instagram feed you enjoy, or a paid promoter.

With the advent of the pandemic and increasingly sophisticated CGI, together with the government's prohibition on real human relationships, the exercise has developed a rather creepy side, the "virtual influencer."

Imma Instagram account

Here's the important thing to know about virtual influencers. They don't exist. This is not a real person.

"Imma" pictured above? That's a digital head placed on a human body. Imma is a digitally decapitated marketing creation intended to manipulate you.

Let's put it this way: Ronald McDonald was not an objective spokesperson regarding the culinary attributes of the Big Mac. He was paid to say those things. But at least we all understood that.

Likewise, when Imma "likes" your comments, it's not her (because, you know, she doesn't exist), and it's certainly not an honest broker providing an objective opinion. She has none. She's not even a she, and I'm not talking pronouns. It's a staffer or more likely an algorithm feeding you whatever it takes to get you to purchase whatever product the company that created her was paid to promote.

So naturally Ikea turned Imma into a physical installation. Like a reverse Tron, they pulled a digital person into the real world.

The Verge 8/31/20

And Imma is small time. Meet "Lil Miquela," even though you can't meet her because she doesn't exist. Aug 18, 2020

A digital creation from head to toe, Lil Miquela was cast by her creators as a kind of "social-justice warrior," the kind who hawks high-end fashion accessories for capitalists.

She was having success and then this happened! Oh no!

Brud has position her as somewhat of a social-justice warrior, so her fans were shocked when a pro-Trump "robo supremacist" character called Bermuda, wiped Miquela's account and started posting photos of herself instead.

Miquela's fans were outraged, shouting "Bring back the real Miquela!" as our virtual influencer hero was accused of being a "fake ### person" who duped her followers. Miquela couldn't have her account back until she promised to "tell people the truth."

Except none of it happened.

Of course, this entire event was orchestrated by Brud as a publicity stunt. Once "Miquela" had regained control of her account, she made her reveal "I'm not a human being. I'm a robot." Miquela accused Brud of leading her and her fans astray. Although, obviously, Brud was the mastermind behind the entire event.

The hack was a PR stunt, and it pushed Miquela to over a million followers – potentially opening avenues for new, and highly profitable, partnerships.

Lil Miquela currently has 2.6 million followers.

You could write this all off as simply a substitution for other forms of drama, television shows with made-up characters interspersed with commercials trying to convince you that your life would be perfect if only you purchased the right toilet bowl cleaner.

But the fact is that there is no clear dividing line between fact and fiction, between reality and the virtual world, between what's real and what's not. Am I real? How do you know? Are you?

Oh, and Lil Miquela has a YouTube channel now.

"Wow, you're a real one, you made it to the very end. Can we be friends?"

Yep, we're totally doomed.

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