All the creepily realistic CGI Instagram influencers you need to know about
There’s been a phenomenon quietly growing on Instagram so subtle you might not even have noticed it.
Influencers are a dime a dozen, but there’s a growing group of Instagram personalities who aren’t personalities at all – they’re computer-generated.
This trend shows no sign of dying down, so it’s worthwhile knowing the key players in the fake influencer game. But who knows, the next round of famous Insta faces might be harder to separate from reality.
Lil Miquela first posted in April of 2016, and since then has amassed 1.3m followers. Miquela’s character is a 19-year-old Brazilian-American living in LA and trying to make it as a singer. A glance on her social media and she looks like any other woke teenage influencer – wearing designer garms from Supreme and Chanel to Vetements and Balenciaga, as well as championing causes like Black Lives Matter and trans rights.
She’s pictured with celebs like Nile Rodgers and Diplo, and has appeared in multiple publications like Highsnobiety and Nylon.
In April, Miquela’s Instagram was hacked by another virtual influence called Bermuda (more on her later), causing Miquela to make a “revelation” that she wasn’t human. Well, we all knew that, but now we know she was created by a tech startup called Brud.
However, the big news hasn’t slowed down her career. In fact, she’s becoming one of the world’s hottest influencers and is modelling computer-generated clothes for big names like Prada. Brud is turning Miquela into money as well, and in April Tech Crunch reported the company raised millions of dollars from Silicon Valley investors. Not only this, but any paid partnerships with the Insta-model will no doubt have them raking in more cash.
Bermuda – who goes under the Instagram handle @bermudaisbae – isn’t quite as popular or high-res as Miquela, but still has 82.8k followers. She is the polar opposite of socially conscious and fashion-forward Miquela, with slightly uncool clothing and right-wing views.
Back in April she got into an feud with Miquela – apparently over the fact that Bermuda owns that she’s a “robot”, whilst Miquela continued to “believe” she was a real person. Around this time Miquela’s profile was hacked and her pictures were replaced with selfies of Bermuda, but the two have since tentatively made up. Many people think this was all a ruse orchestrated by Brud.
Bermuda is a big Trump supporter and, like Miquela, claims to be the work of Daniel Cain – someone who doesn’t seem to exist. Confusing? Yep, it sure is – but it’s definitely created more buzz around the personalities.
Ronald Blawko – who goes by @blawko22 on Instagram – has also been created by Brud. Like Miquela, he looks exactly like any other influencer – complete with designer clothes and face tattoos.
We’re not entirely sure the relationship between the two – even though they call each other “sis” and “bro” and in one post Miquela mentions friend-zoning him so chances are they aren’t supposed to be related. What we do know is that Bermuda doesn’t like him and often slams him online.
With 133k followers, Blawko’s influence isn’t to be sniffed at.
Unrelated to the dramas of Brud and its creations is Shudu – a strikingly beautiful model who first started posting on Instagram in April 2017, and has actually modelled for the likes of Fenty Beauty.
Shudu is the creation of visual artist Cameron-James Wilson, and has 130k followers, even with only 27 posts. However, the project has courted a fair amount of controversy – largely because Wilson is white.
He’s been criticised online for fetishising black bodies with his creation of Shudu, taking control of the black narrative with his white voice, cultural appropriation and depriving real black models of job opportunities.
In response to the criticism, Wilson told Cosmopolitan that he hasn’t profited from Shudu, and just wants to make fashion more diverse.
Sophia the robot is slightly different to the others on the list. Instead of existing purely in CGI on the internet, she’s a real physical presence – but still a robot.
Created by Hanson Robotics, she’s made a huge name for herself travelling the world and talking to celebrities and political leaders. She even became the first robot to be given citizenship of a country – Saudi Arabia, in case you were wondering.
Sophia has also dipped her toes into the world of fashion, having graced the cover of Elle Brazil and Stylist, and modelled for the likes of Moncler. Who knows, maybe a physical presence will be the next step for the likes of Miquela – although there’s some way to go before they become as realistic in real life as they are online.