Are These #NoFilter Pics Actually Filter-Free?

Salah Malkawi/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Are you constantly in awe of all the gorgeous photos on Instagram that claim they’re totally filter-free? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but apparently a lot of us are lying about our #nofilter pics: According to a new study by social media marketing company Spredfast, 11 percent of photos using the #nofilter hashtag on Instagram actually do have filters. 11 percent may not seem like much at first — but when you consider the fact that 11 percent equals roughly 8.6 million photos… well, let’s just say that it’s not an insignificant amount.

Spredfast gathered their data from Facebook’s public API, information which includes filter data. The company then tested the last 100,000 images to use the #nofilter hashtag in order to get their sample. According to Mashable, the most popular filter choice for the false #nofilter photos was Amaro; 15 percent of those #actuallyfiltered images featured it. I don’t use Instagram, but the Internet tells me it brightens the center of a picture, so I assume it probably makes the lighting for any given photo look better than it actually was when the picture was taken. Runners up include Valencia at 12 percent, which makes digital images look a little like Polaroids, and X-Pro II at 10 percent, which adds depth by saturating the tones in each image.

This whole thing, of course, prompts the question: Why? Why are we telling people we’re not using filters when in reality, we are? I’m theorizing here, but I think it’s because, ironically enough, we really, really care about looking like we don’t care. Studies have shown that we put a lot of stock in what others think of us due simply to how our brains function; consider, for example, research conducted in 2010 by University College London and Aarhus University in Denmark which attempted to suss out why we care so much what other people think of us. What they found was that the part of our brains associate with rewards is a heck of a lot more active when others agree with and reinforce our own opinions.

Add to that the fact that appearing “natural” — naturally beautiful, naturally talented, naturally whatever — is usually perceived as a desirable trait, and, well — bam. It’s a recipe for “Here, I will show you how awesome I am, but without seeming like I am showing you how awesome I am.” I might even go so far as to argue that the #wokeuplikethis hashtag is simply a variation on the #nofilter one… but that might be a story for another day.

Anyway, if you want to see more, there’s a Tumblr dedicated to revealing #nofilter fakers called (what else?) Filter Fakers; it’s sort of like the Internet Wall of Shame for photos caught in their own lies. Some of them, like this one:

Are subtler than others, like this one (yikes):

How many would have fooled you?

Images: Reaction Gifs, Filter Fakers