Wouldn’t it be great if social media was an accurate reflection of reality? Unfortunately, as seasoned social media users we now know that “reality” can be altered by the pictures we post, the filters we choose and the hashtags we use.
How do you separate fact from fiction when scanning your feed? Consider these 10 Instagram hoaxes to be your crash course in social media deception.
1. Your adorable child
If you haven’t heard of baby role-play on Instagram before, you may want to sit down for this. Tween and teen girls have been caught stealing pictures of other users’ babies to pass off as their own in a virtual fantasy world.
2. Your average selfie
Let’s be real — the average selfie that you see on your feed, even with claims of #nofilter, can turn an attractive girl into a supermodel with the right angles and lighting.
3. Your better-than-average selfie
If you want to look better than your best self on Instagram, there’s an app for that. The Perfect365 free makeover app can add extra blush and lipstick on the days you leave the house in a rush.
4. Your breakfast, lunch and dinner
Artfully photographing your food is one of the first things you learn after creating an Instagram account. And for all the fit folks who post pictures of burgers and ice cream, the jig is up — the You Did Not Eat That Instagram account catalogs the lean Instagram beauties who spend way too much time posing with food.
5. Your epic vacation
Besides food and children, travel is the next best thing to brag about on Instagram. The next time a friend posts a picture of a beautiful Italian sunset, take a second look. Happy vacation travel is easy to fake, with some families going so far as to hire professional paparazzi to document their perfect getaway.
6. Your favorite celebrity
Megastars like Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Britney Spears have all been accused of staging Instagram snaps. Love you, ladies, but did you think we wouldn’t find out?
7. Your feed versus your reality
Bustle’s Fashion & Beauty writer Olivia Muenter broke down what was really behind all of her cleverly staged Instagram pics. Turns out that Muenter’s trendy juice cleanse shot was really punishment for bingeing on Cheez-Its over Christmas break.
8. Your Instasham life
Just as the name suggests, Instasham lets you pull one over on your friends by uploading one of the site’s carefully selected “beautiful life” photos to your Instagram account. With a motto like, “If you can’t make it, fake it,” your friends will never be the wiser.
9. Your rock-hard bikini bod
The next time you see a weight loss before and after on Instagram, take a beat before you get down on yourself. Australian fitness instructor Mel V. used flattering clothing, fake tanner, hair extensions and better posture to convince her 16,000 followers of her “dramatic” weight loss results.
10. Your super-hot girlfriend
Photographer Keisuki Jinushi shows us how easy it is to create a steamy Instagram romance with a bit of makeup and a sleight of hand. Mind blown.