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New law prohibits influencers from using ‘misleading’ beauty filters

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that social media influencers must now disclose when they use ‘misleading’ beauty filters on sponsored posts.

Ever since ‘fake aesthetic’ filters began flooding our Instagram feeds in early 2019 they’ve become common place, so much so that you may not even realise you’re looking at an altered selfie that can manipulate anything from eye colour to your jawbone.

Whether this involves skin that appears slightly too flawless or overly chiselled and exaggerated features, for years these methods of retouching have encouraged us to conform to problematic online standards, causing a wave of ‘Insta-dysmorphia.’

Though many of us may occasionally delight in seeing what we look like with smaller noses, reconstructed jaws, and a larger pout, it wasn’t until Instagram enforced a ban on such effects that the world came to realise quite how damaging they’d become.

In a recent study, it was unveiled that around half of the female participants (aged between 11 and 21) use apps or filters regularly, to make photos of themselves ‘look better’ before publishing them.

Now, taking things a step further to protect the self-esteem of impressionable young people, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that social media influencers must disclose when they use a beauty filter to promote products.

Responding to the #filterdrop campaign founded last July by Sasha Pallari in the hope we’d start seeing more ‘realness’ online, the new law will prohibit the use of filters if they amplify the results cosmetics or skincare being sold by brands are capable of achieving.

This essentially means that influencers and celebrities being paid to advertise will not be able to upload content that’s been modified to change the shade or texture of what they’re endorsing.

Anything that goes against these regulations will be taken down, and the companies behind the harmful posts will be forbidden from appearing on the site again.

‘I feel like the detrimental impact this is having on social media users has finally been taken seriously,’ Pallari told the BBC upon hearing the news. ‘It’s a huge step in the right direction for how filters are used, and the way cosmetics are advertised online.’

Pallari adds that as incredible as influencer culture is, recommending anything without 100% transparency is unacceptable when a significant amount of the audiences relying on these opinions are vulnerable to serious mental health issues.

This was after Dr Evans – a member of the Health and Social Care Committee – said that edited photos on social media are ‘fuelling a mental health crisis by fostering a completely warped sense of beauty.’

ASA examined several examples to support their decision, concluding that an ongoing focus of their work in this area will be to raise awareness of the rules; to support influencers with the guidance and tools they need to help get their ads right; and to work closely with the social media platforms who can and will enforce their rulings where an advertiser is unwilling to work with them.

It’s certainly very promising going forward because, as we all know by now, social media is here to stay. For this reason, pushing for increased authenticity on the platforms we spend hours a day scrolling through ought to be a given when taking care of our wellbeing.

Here’s hoping we begin to see real skin, real texture, real nose shapes, real lip sizes, and true product colour in the months to come because the number of people that’ll stop comparing themselves as a result will no doubt be prolific.