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Young People Are Using A TikTok Filter To Create Photos With Family Members Who've Died

The head of product for TikTok in the US told BuzzFeed News this creative and powerful application from users is "inspiring."

Posted on January 12, 2021, at 12:47 p.m. ET

@adriannexoxo

this hit different #missyou #fyp

♬ original sound - Pbaby 🚨

People on TikTok are reimagining how to use a popular new filter that places or "flattens" you in a photo, and it's making people very emotional.

Young TikTokers are uploading old photos of parents or other loved ones who've died so they can have current photos of them together.

Those who have used the "Green Screen Scan" effect in this way told BuzzFeed News that the experience was overwhelming and heartbreaking but also cathartic.

The Green Screen Scan imposes the user onto any photo they choose to upload in the background so that the results, or new photo, looks like one flattened image. Like many videos on the app, the filter was first used jokingly as a way to convince a parent that you were somewhere that you were not.

Soon after, a different kind of video using the filter went viral. Nineteen-year-old Alexis Puckett said last week when she was scrolling through the app and noticed the new filter on the app she "knew immediately" what she had to do with it.

Puckett used the green screen effect with the last photo she took with her dad, who died from stage 4 esophageal cancer in 2018. Her TikTok has been viewed more than 7.4 million times.

"It made me really happy to be able to see myself now with my dad because he has missed out on so much after passing, as I was only 17 when he passed," she told BuzzFeed News.

@lexscameraroll

oh yea this one hurt #fyp #lgbt

♬ original sound - Sad audios

People who watched her video were just as moved by it. "That just broke me," one user wrote. Others, like Sara Rogers, 19, said they were instantly inspired to try this themselves.

Rogers, who lives near Nashville, told BuzzFeed News she saw Puckett's video and instantly thought about her mom, who died in a car accident last year. She had made previous videos about her mom and her grief, but she said this one was surprisingly hard to get through.

@saramargs

STOP this hurted.

♬ original sound - Sad audios

"I made another [TikTok] before I made this one that I ended up posting and I immediately bawled my eyes out as you can probably tell by my red face," Rogers said. "It looked way too realistic and was very sentimental to me."

Adrianne Taylor, 21, said she was also moved to tears the moment she began posing "with" her father in the photo. Her dad died from brain cancer in 2012 when she was only a preteen.

"When making the TikTok I became overwhelmed with emotions," Taylor, who lives in San Jose, told BuzzFeed News. "I've watched the video myself at least 200 times."

She said what she felt was "raw sadness" because her dad could not see her grow up. But then seeing the result of the photo was also strangely comforting.

"It was nice to see a photo of us with me grown up rather than being a little girl," Taylor said. "When losing a loved one there's no time limit on your grief. You just learn to live with it."

Sean Kim, the head of product for TikTok in the US, told BuzzFeed News said this creative and powerful use of their design was "inspiring."

"This use of Green Screen Scan is another inspiring example of our community’s creativity and heart, and we’re proud to see them continue to use TikTok to tell their stories and share meaningful moments with the world," said Kim.

Taylor, and others, said it's not just the TikTok filter that's had a profound effect on them. Sharing their complicated grief has also led strangers to message them, offering their condolences and also relating to their joy and sorrow.

"The kind feedback from people and the genuine understanding of my pain was so soothing and unlike anything I've experienced before," she added.

Rogers experienced the same. "I've had a ton of people reach out to me about their parents passing and it was extremely comforting knowing other people have gone through the same trauma and have gotten through it," she said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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