digital ethnography



In the wake of Facebook's Fake News Feed scandal Instagram needed to better understand the positive and negative impact on its users. 

Since launching in 2007 Instagram has amassed over 600 million users. In that time, instances of diagnosed depression have dramatically increased on a global scale. 

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More alarming, new data was pointing to Instagram as the greatest overall contributor to depression out of all social media sites.

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Finding which users were most at risk for depression and understanding which aspects of the platform most negatively impacted mental health.


A 4 day, 20 person ethnographic study. We asked Instagram's core users to share via text, memes, gifs, video essays how the platform was being used and abused. 

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Finding #1

Core users are spending the majority of their time (6-12 hrs) on the platform photo editing and manicuring their social image. Both activities were reported in having a net negative emotional impact.

Finding #2

Core users rely on Instagram for social validation, but the platform is structured to boost the least transparent users - those who filter, hashtag dump, and hack likes.

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Finding #3

The more we believe the false reality Instagram has played a role in creating, the more we feel compelled to live up to that unrealistic standard. 



Based in Instagram's original purpose, but a more honest reflection of the world we live in.

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Campaign Concept

A play on the popular #nofilter, a celebration of truly unedited life with #unfiltered.

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Tracking Success

 Instagram launches a 10 year mental health study to track whether the #unfiltered initiatives are making a difference.

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Anna Kim 

Julian Grimes 

Kyle Stolcis