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Samsung thinks you aren’t pretty enough, airbrushes selfies automatically

A popular health and fitness blogger has noticed that her Samsung device automatically filters out her freckles and blemishes when she takes a selfie.

Published onJuly 1, 2016

mel wells samsung filter

Mel Wells is a UK health and fitness writer as well as a popular Instagrammer. As someone familiar with selfie snapping, she noticed something a little different about her appearance when she took one with her brand new Samsung Galaxy S7. The front facing camera automatically obliterated all of her freckles.

A little poking around led to Wells discovering the “Beauty” filter. Although she says there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with having such a filter, it did strike her as a bit irksome that the filter was turned on by default.

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“This means everyone who gets a new Samsung phone and flicks the front camera on is automatically being told ‘Hi, we’re Samsung and we think you look way better when we automatically airbrush your selfies for you.’”

The concern is that this plays into a widespread marketing tactic currently employed by practically every advertiser in existence. If you’re an advertiser, you want people to buy something from you. How? Try to engender a sense of dissatisfaction with what they already have. In the extremely lucrative field of beauty products, this entails convincing people – primarily women – that they aren’t attractive enough as they currently are.

Hi, we're Samsung and we think you look way better when we automatically airbrush your selfies for you.

“Thanks @samsungmobile for the vote of confidence,” Wells wrote on Instagram. “I think I’ll keep my freckles and imperfections since this is how I look in 3D and this is how all my friends see me in real life.”

Samsung, of course, isn’t in the business of hocking beauty goods, but in a world where beauty standards are going berserk, some are concerned that by having this filter enabled by default, Samsung is playing into a potentially damaging narrative. In response to rising complaints to this tune, Samsung issued the following statement:

At Samsung we offer a range of camera settings on our mobile phones for our customers to be able to choose to switch on or use. The beauty setting is one such setting that we know our customers love and has the option of being switched on or turned off completely, depending on personal preference.

What are your thoughts regarding Samsung’s decision to automatically filter selfies rather than allow users to voluntarily opt into the setting? A pointless controversy or a subtle issue that merits discussion? Let us know your take in the comments.

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