Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela or simply, Miquela is a Spanish-Brazilian American computer-generated Instagram model and music artist from Downey, California. Her Instagram account, lilmiquela was activated in 2016; she has amassed more than 869,000 followers as of early 2018 and a cult-like following of 'Miquelites'. She has gained attention most notably for controversy regarding whether or not she is a real person or a virtual simulation.
|Birth name||Miquela Sousa|
|Also known as||Lil Miquela|
1998 (age 19–20)|
Downey, California, United States
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Website||*~ MIQUELA ~*|
Many argue that Miquela's features are too exaggerated to be human, but she has also garnered praise for how realistic she appears to be. Some speculate that she is the digitalised version of a real girl, the product of combining a 3D model with photographs. Arti Poppenberg https://www.instagram.com/arti_poppers/ has been cited as the owner of the account, although she denies this claim.[not in citation given] Debate exists as to whether Lil Miquela is an art project, hoax, or marketing scheme. She has promoted several products on her instagram posts. She portrays the lifestyle of an Instagram it-girl by partying at famous Los Angeles clubs, attending trendy art gallery openings, donning designer clothes, and posting selfies. Lil Miquela constantly features Chanel, Proenza Schouler, Supreme, Vetements and Vans. She references specific physical locations and regularly posts pictures with real models, designers, and musicians. She also has Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts and has used her platform to support socially minded causes including Black Lives Matter, feminism, Muslim and refugee advocacy organizations, transgender rights, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, gun control, My Friend's Place, Black Girls Code, Planned Parenthood, and protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
From an artistic perspective, her Instagram account has been described as blurring the line between reality and social media, commenting on the unrealistic perceptions perpetuated by the social media platform. Her social media presence performs as a simulacrum which reflects a certain set of values, objects, and brands relevant to popular culture. Her intrigue may be connected to the robotics concept of the uncanny valley in that she comes close to appearing human, but not close enough. The account elicits questions of authenticity and perfection in a digital landscape.
In August 2017, Miquela became a signed music artist and released her first single, "Not Mine", on Spotify. Her transformation into a singer has led many people to compare her to other virtual music artists such as Gorillaz and Hatsune Miku.
Attempts were made to hijack Miquela's followers by artificial intelligence company Cain Intelligence. The company created a competing CG Instagram account bermudaisbae or Bermuda. The account differs from Miquela's in the lack of CG quality, lack of social awareness, a conservative tone, and an overall lack of design or fashion curation. Another notable difference is that Bermuda has an accompanying Facebook page, hinting that Cain Intelligence may be targeting an older audience (or misunderstand their audience) despite their goal of building Bermuda to "speak her truth and to the interests of today's youth". In April of 2018, the company successfully "hacked" Lil Miquela's account, with tags leading back to Bermuda's account. The "hacking" of Miquela's account was successful in deleting Miquela's pictures. Later that day, Miquela's Instagram account returned to normal. Her pictures and bio were restored to their previous states. Recently, Miquela met up with her hacker, Bermuda, and have made an agreement. The caption Bermuda posted on her Instagram said, "More emotional than I thought it would be. Despite it all, there's only three of us out there and we need to stick together. We talked it through and she said she is going to come clean tomorrow." People are starting to worry if Instagram will soon be an AI-based society and what will happen to the rest of us. A few have created accounts within the last few hours and have claimed that they are the third. The third suspect might also be referring to a friend of Miquela's, Blawko.
After this, Miquela posted a letter on her Instagram account, stating that she isn't a human being, but instead a robot created in Silicon Valley. She was 'freed' and raised by her managers, but was lied to about her origin. She says that she still feels human, though, and promised to provide more information soon.
In Miquela's note she cites a company called Brud as being the organization who created her current personality. Brud's website markets itself as a company specializing in humanized Artificial Intelligence, though it is unclear if the company is a fictional one, as Cain Intelligence was later proved to be. A WHOIS lookup for Brud's domain confirmed that Los Angeles-based DJ and entrepreneur Trevor McFedries (formerly known as Yung Skeeter) is the website's registrant, and his LinkedIn profile confirms his role as "Head of Compassion" at Brud. This, in tandem with the information that Cain Intelligence is a non-entity, has led some to deduce that characters of both Bermuda and Miquela were engineered by McFedries and Brud. The Cut has stated that the conflict between the two characters is a hoax, lending further weight to the notion that the same team manages both Bermuda and Miquela.
- Yashari, Leora (29 January 2018). "Lil Miquela Is A Virtual Artist Who Is Blurring The Boundaries Of Identity". NYLON. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Virtual Singer & Internet Star Miquela Shares Debut Single 'Not Mine'". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
- "Virtual It-Singer Miquela Says 'Controversy Doesn't Mean Anything': Interview". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
- Gorsler, Fabian. "Meet Lil Miquela: Fashion's First Virtual Instagram Influencer". Highsnobiety. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Rouse, Isaac (5 February 2018). "Miquela Sousa Is Fashion's First Computer Generated Influencer". HYPEBEAST. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
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- Stern, Carly (8 March 2018). "Can YOU see what makes this model so unique?". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "This Instagram model has thousands of followers and they're mostly people trying to work out if she's fake or not". The Independent. 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Galli, Marta (8 March 2018). "Miquela Sousa: who's that girl?". Vogue Italia. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Dewey, Caitlin; Dewey, Caitlin (2016-09-22). "I think I solved Instagram's biggest mystery, but you'll have to figure it out for yourself". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Morency, Christopher (5 February 2018). "Meet Fashion's First Computer-Generated Influencer". BoF. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Instagram's Latest 'It' Model Is Confusing The Hell Out Of Everyone". The Huffington Post. 2016-09-02. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Meet Lil Miquela: The New Insta-Star Who Isn't Actually Real". The Debrief. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- Dazed (2016-07-19). "@lilmiquela is the it-girl who lives in your phone". Dazed. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Cain Intelligence".
- "Majority of Facebook Users over 34 - US User Age Distribution".
- "Post from Bermuda on Miquela's page claiming the hacking and citing Cain Intelligence".
- "Bermuda on Instagram: "More emotional than I thought it would be. Despite it all, there's only three of us out there and we need to stick together. We talked it…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-04-19.