TIME Internet

A Marketing Firm Could Be Looking at Your Selfies

Big brand advertisers want to find their logos in your pictures

That picture you posted on Instagram from the beach last week might have more useful data in it than you think.

Where are you? What do you have in your hand? Do you look happy or sad? What are you wearing? These are all questions that can help advertisers target their marketing to consumers, so a crop of new digital marketing companies has begun analyzing photos posted on Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and other photo-sharing sites to look for these trends and insights.

Ditto Labs Inc. uses photo-scanning software to locate logos in these personal photos (is the subject wearing a North Face jacket? Or holding a can of Coca-Cola?) and look at the context in which these brands are being used.

For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, Kraft Food Groups Inc. pays Ditto Labs to find their logos on Instagram and Tumblr. Ditto Labs then analyzes trends like what people drink when they’re eating Kraft products and how happy they appear to be. They are then placed into categories like “foodie” and “sports fan” based on how they’re eating their Kraft food.

Digital marketing firms use personal photos in other ways, too; Piquora Inc. stores massive amounts of these images over a few months to look at trends over time.

This new brand of marketing research serves as a fresh reminder that the photos we put online are public, and once we click ‘post’ we lose control over who sees them and what they’re used for. “This is an area that could be ripe for commercial exploitation and predatory marketing,” Joni Lupovitz, vice president at children’s privacy advocacy group Common Sense Media, told the Journal. “Just because you happen to be in a certain place or captured an image, you might not understand that could be used to build a profile of you online.”

TIME technology

Happy 4th Birthday, Instagram: Here Are the Most Popular Hashtags From 2010

Four years ago, taking pictures of brunch was weird. But on Oct. 6, 2010, everything changed.

Monday marks Instagram’s 4th birthday, and to celebrate, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane. Instagram gave TIME a time capsule that goes back to the early days of the photo-sharing app. The 13 most popular hashtags of 2010 show that while some things change (um, #iphone4?), some never will (#cat forever):

#cat
The Internet loves felines, now and forever

#iphone4
#iphone6

#snowpocalypse
Now we have polar vortexes to worry about

#sfgiants
A Silicon Valley favorite

#ivoted
About that time again

#movember
It will never end

#tgif
We’re now kind of more into #TBT

#angrybirds
Remember a time before Candy Crush?

#blackswan
This one provided a lot of Halloween costume inspiration

#madmen
The show will soon enter its final season

#lunareclipse
People love capturing natural occurrences

#thanksgiving
People continue to up their Thanksgiving Instagram game

#nofilter
With all of Instagram’s filter offerings, it’s now kind of hard to resist

TIME Hajj

Hajj 2014: The Year of The Selfie

Hajj is an annual pilgrimage for Muslims all over the world

Hajj is a pilgrimage that all Muslims must partake in at least once. It is also the largest annual gathering in the world with millions of people coming to pray at the holy site, Mecca. But this religious tradition has a new element: selfies. Taking a selfie at Hajj has become a trend, especially now that camera phones are no longer strictly banned at the site. However, some people are against taking self-portraits at what is supposed to be “a pilgrimage that contains no boasting or showing of[f]” according to Arab News.

TIME China

China Keeps Citizens in the Dark Over Hong Kong Protests

The government blocked Instagram Sunday

China is well known for its censoring social media and certain websites when there’s news it wants to block out — and now that Hong Kong is ablaze with protests, the shutters have come down again.

Some Chinese newspapers have made no mention of the protests, and the countries authorities blocked photo-sharing app Instagram on Sunday, according to CNN.

China even blacked out a live CNN newscast about the protests as host Anderson Cooper narrated. “In the past, they’ve censored us, and it’s gone to black. They might do it again. They might censor us again tonight,” he said, seconds before authorities cut the stream off. “And, we’ve just gone to black in China,” he finished.

 

 

TIME Markets

Facebook Is Now Worth $200 Billion

Facebook Holds f8 Developers Conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The record-setting figure is still just one-third of Apple's market cap

Facebook’s valuation passed the $200 billion mark for the first time Monday. The company’s stock closed at $77.6, a new all-time high, giving it a market capitalization of $200.26 billion, according to Google Finance.

The social network has consistently impressed Wall Street analysts in its quarterly earnings reports over the last year thanks to robust growth in mobile usage and advertising revenue. Many analysts believe future prospects for the company are extremely high because Facebook has not yet begun to monetize acquisitions like Instagram and WhatsApp or place a significant number of pricey video ads in users’ News Feeds.

Facebook is also continuing to grow its user base quickly outside the U.S. The company announced today that it now has 100 million users in Africa, which it says is half the total number of Internet-connected people on the continent.

By comparison, Apple, the most valuable company in the world, had a market cap of $590 billion at the close of trading today. Google’s market cap was about $400 billion.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 8

1. To calculate the value of vaccines, we must imagine the economic cost of a world without them.

By Michael White in Pacific Standard

2. Apple may change everything again, this time by finally killing the credit card.

By Marcus Wohlsen in Wired

3. Local government – often heralded as the best kind of government – is actually America’s most broken and oppressive.

By Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine

4. “Instagram for doctors” can help solve medical mysteries.

By Sarah Kliff in Vox

5. A policy of realism, tempered with humanity, is good for people and nations.

By Walter Isaacson in Time

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME celebrity

Read the Uplifting Message Taylor Swift Wrote to a Fan Who’s Struggling With Bullies

49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards - Red Carpet
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 06: Recording artist Taylor Swift attends the 49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christopher Polk/ACMA2014/Getty Images for ACM) Christopher Polk/ACMA2014—Getty Images for ACM

"Let them keep living in the darkness and we'll keep walking in the sunlight"

We already knew that flaxen-haired, golden-hearted Taylor Swift occasionally leaves short and sweet little comments for her fans on Instagram, but this one shows a whole new level of kindness. When a fan named Hannah posted about her struggles with bullies at school, T-Swift took the time to write out a long, thoughtful response, encouraging the girl, who is about to enter high school, to keep her head up.

The comment began circulating on Twitter:

Here’s the full note:

Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change. People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all.

It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.

You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.

Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me… and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight. Forever on your side, Taylor.

This is basically the Instagram comment version of her latest single, “Shake It Off.” Forget about the haters, you guys. Just forget them.

(h/t MTV)

TIME celebrities

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Relationship, As Seen Through Instagram

Snapshots from the couple's life on the road, in honor of Beyoncé's 33rd birthday

Beyoncé and Jay Z are on the run with their co-headlining summer tour, but today is all about Bey Day — that is, Beyoncé’s 33rd birthday. Take a look back through Beyoncé’s Instagram — her go-to tool for sending sly messages to her fans — to see her love with her main man and collaborator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME apps

Instagram’s New ‘Hyperlapse’ App Lets You Make Super-Smooth Timelapse Video

Get ready to make professional-looking timelapse videos with your iPhone

Instagram introduced a new video app Tuesday that collapses long, shaky timelapse videos into smooth, professional-looking clips.

The new app, called “Hyperlapse,” uses image stabilizing algorithms to iron out the jolts and tremors that typically mar timelapse smartphone footage, creating what the company calls “a cinematic look, quality and feel—a feat that has previously only been possible with expensive equipment.” Users can set playback speeds at 1 to 12 times the speed of the real world, collapsing prolonged shots into a few speedy seconds.

“From documenting your whole commute in seconds or the preparation of your dinner from start to finish to capturing an entire sunset as it unfolds, we’re thrilled about the creative possibilities Hyperlapse unlocks,” Instagram wrote in its announcement of the new app, which is now live in the iOS App Store for iPhones. An Android version is also in the works.

TIME Parenting

Art or Porn: When Does Posting Nude Photos of a Toddler Cross the Line?

Wyatt Neumann's daughter
Wyatt Neumann's daughter Wyatt Neumann

Maybe there's something slightly tragic to be said about the Internet having conditioned us all to look at things through smut-colored glasses

If you follow any parents on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen something like the snapshot Wyatt Neumann posted last year. His 2-year-old daughter, Stella, completely naked, jumps on an unmade motel bed, joy blooming across her face.

You may have even posted a photo just like it of your own kid. Chances are, though, you didn’t get comments like the ones Neumann did: “This guy is a class A d–k.” Or this one: “PEDOS CAN EASILY FIND THESE PICTURES AND JACK OFF TO THEM.”

Or maybe you shared a snapshot of your little one, frolicking outside, lifting her dress — in that unselfconscious way every toddler does. Neumann, a professional photographer, posted these and more on Instagram. Many of the ensuing comments were profanity-laced. One said: “I want to puke. The nude photos are gross and disturbing.”

These photos, and more like them, are the centerpieces of Neumann’s latest solo show at the Safari gallery in Soho, New York, which runs through the end of the week. Titled “I Feel Sorry For Your Children,” the exhibit documents a 12-day road trip he took with Stella last year, from Zion National Park to New York City. He accompanies each photo with his original Instagram caption — usually with the hashtag #dadlife — and a comment from a complete stranger. It is an extreme iteration of the more judgmental and moralistic strains we encounter in modern parenting.

And yet, the photos raise an interesting question about how much we share about our kids on social media. Neumann happens to be an award-winning fine art photographer with commercial clients like Reebok and Visa. But you wouldn’t necessarily have that context if you were to stumble upon his photos online somewhere for the first time. Pictures like the one of his daughter sitting between his legs in a bathtub might trigger a twinge of discomfort for the candidness and intimacy they capture. It’s a beautiful image, but does it belong in a public venue frequented by perverts and prudes alike? Here’s where I land: However uncomfortable a given photo may make me feel, I would be even less comfortable telling someone they can’t post it.

The roadtrip photos — Stella in her carseat; Stella using a portable training potty at a roadside pitstop; Stella eating barbeque — were first posted to his Instagram account. His friend Claire Bidwell Smith, author of the best-selling memoir “The Rules of Inheritance,” told her own Instagram followers to check them out. From there the images made their way to the online message board Get Off My Internets.

And then came the hate: Parenting trolls descended with a vengeance, flagging so many of his pictures that his account was suspended mid-roadtrip — 6,000 photos gone — but not before flooding his posts and inbox with hate speech and insults.

It was clearly too much for some to stomach. I wonder if these people — protected by the anonymity the Internet provides — would have been less quick to assault the parent’s character if it was Stella’s mother who posted the photos. And maybe there is something slightly tragic to be said about the Internet having conditioned us all to look at things through smut-colored glasses. “The Internet is for porn,” goes the famous line from the Tony-winning musical Avenue Q–and most of the time I’m the last person to complain about it. But there are multiple references to pedophiles in the Instagram comments to his photos. In the worst instances, commenters have accused Neumann of trading in kiddie porn.

“What they wanted me to do was stop posting photos,” he told me at his exhibit which opened last month. “They wanted to take away my ability to do that. The more this conservative, puritanical, fundamentalist ideology starts to permeate our culture [the more] it’s compressing our ability to express ourselves. Rather than retreat, I pushed forward and turned it into a beautiful art show.”

Anyone with a child has hundreds of these kinds of snapshots on a smartphone. I do. We all have our own rules about how much we’ll share of our kids’ lives online. I certainly don’t post any photos of mine undressed or, for that matter, doing anything I think they’d find compromising in the future. But they’re older than Stella. When they were younger I might have shared a bathtub shot or two, or one of them copping a potty-training squat. Harmless stuff. But even then, it would have most likely been on Facebook where at least I am given the illusion that I can control who has access to the pictures.

These days, whenever I take a photo of my kids, ages 6 and 9, they invariably say “Don’t put that on Facebook!” or “Let me choose the filter before you put it on Instagram.” I let them call the shots, most of the time.

Neumann, whose own father died before he could get to know him, errs on the side of openness. He’s creating an archive for his kids and who am I to judge him for sharing it? “I was raised on a hippie commune,” he says. “I grew up naked. My life with my father is something I lived through in photos. I got to know him through the artifacts he left.”

It’s painfully obvious that Neumann not only loves his children, but is also a present, involved and nurturing father. Author Bidwell Smith thought she had made that point when she shared her friend’s pictures.

“People box parenthood into such a small realm of what we’re supposed to be with our children,” she told me. “Wyatt blows that up. His work is brilliant and gorgeous–the way he captures childhood in this fleeting way. Kids are free and magical and not inhibited by the cultural boundaries we all are. It made me sad that that distinction wasn’t made in their minds.”

The photos he shares of Stella are striking in their intimacy and universality. His wife, Jena Cordova, told me that she would feel lucky to have one such picture from her own childhood; Stella and her older brother Takota have thousands. (I am granted an interview with Stella, but she is feeling shy and buries her face into her Dad’s neck. Also, there is a smartphone nearby streaming cartoons.)

Like the comic who says what everyone is thinking but too scared to utter out loud, Neumann makes photographs of his kids as timeless as they are personal: his daughter looking tired, his daughter ecstatic, sultry, bored, human.

“It’s very confusing to me,” says Cordova. “Even when I didn’t have children, my mind wouldn’t have gone there. It makes me sad for a lot of people that it would even cross their minds.”

In that respect Neumann’s photos are something of a Rorschach test: You see in them what you want to see. I see a doting dad who happens to be a photographer with a killer eye — and, yes, a desire to share. Haters, as they say on the Internet and playgrounds everywhere, are gonna hate.

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