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How I Trolled 275 Million Snapchat Users.

How I Trolled 275 Million Snapchat Users.,

A not-so-deep dive into How Old You Look


I love creating things; specifically, I love creating Snapchat Lenses. I’m not sure if its the process of creating, the final creation, or seeing the reactions from people who use them that love the most. But for this Snapchat Lens, it’s the reactions of the people who used it.

I made a lens called “How Old you Look”; it’s a Snapchat Lens that was advertised to show you how old you looked using ‘advanced facial recognition algorithms’. Some people used it and thought it was incredible that something like that could work in real-time on mobile hardware. Little did they know I was about to flip a switch that would cause psychological trauma and self-uncertainty to 275 million users across Snapchat.

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I convinced teenagers they looked like pre-teens and told adults they looked old by taking their real age and changing it for the worse.

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The Reactions

A few days after uploading the lens, I checked up on how many people had used it so far.

There were around 5 million views within 24 hours.

It was pretty clear that this was going to be one of my biggest lenses. From the start it had all the characteristics of a viral filter: it was something that people would use on repeat, it promoted being shared, and it was controversial. Not controversial in an overly-offensive or political way, but controversial in that it challenged people’s perspective of themselves. Social media is all about making yourself and your friends feel good, so to have something that told you you looked like an adolescent or that you were old immediately grabs attention.

Sometimes I feel bad for lying and confusing so many people, but then I go back to laughing when I see how people react.

A lot of people hated seeing a computer guess how old they look.

But others found it pretty funny

Even some celebrities used it

TikTok superstar Lil Huddy

And got a lil mad about it too

Got a nice little message from him

One user even wrote an email to me saying:

I CANNOT, and I repeat, am not able to get anything older than 15 and I have been trying for like half an hour now. I’m 18 and for some reason this is really hurting my soul I would like to know if I actually look like a preteen.

And people took to Twitter and were furious:

How it was made

For clarification, I had never actually implemented any ‘advanced facial recognition algorithms’, the only thing used was Lens Studio’s user context system that allowed any lens creator to retrieve the user’s birthday. Then by using some mathmatical functions in JavaScript, the script subtracts 5 to 8 years if the user is under 25 and adds 10 to 15 years if they are over 25. I did this because of course, no teenager wants to hear that they look twelve and no adult wants to look old. To keep the lens more believable, it randomly added and subtracted between the respective age addition or subtraction ranges to make the user think it was really guessing their age.


At the time of writing this, the lens has 277.17 million views. It remains my most popular Snapchat Lens ever and even helped me surpass the 1 billion view milestone across all of my Snapchat Lenses combined, something that I still can’t wrap my head around. The reach that Snapchat and lenses uploaded to it via Lens Studio can have is insane and it’s definitely something that anyone can and should tap into whether you’re an individual with a passion for getting their message out to the masses or a company running an ad campaign.

The lens can still be found trending on the lens explorer and still gets millions of views a week. If you want to use the lens for yourself, just scan the Snapcode or click the link below:

Snap to Unlock!

Thanks for reading!

You can find me on Snapchat @nick-dominici or on Instagram @nicholasdominici
For any business inquires, email me at

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How I Trolled 275 Million Snapchat Users. was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Nicholas Dominici

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