Instagram bans 'cosmetic surgery' filters

BBC News Technology 1 month ago

Instagram is removing all augmented reality (AR) filters that depict or promote cosmetic surgery, amid concerns they harm people's mental health.

Effects that make people look like they have had lip injections, fillers or a facelift will be among those banned.

Research suggests face-changing filters can make people feel worse about the way they look.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said the ban was about promoting wellbeing.

"We're re-evaluating our policies - we want our filters to be a positive experience for people," a spokesman said.

"While we're re-evaluating our policies, we will remove all effects from the [effects] gallery associated with plastic surgery, stop further approval of new effects like this and remove current effects if they're reported to us."

In August, an update to the Instagram app allowed users to create their own virtual effects, such as animations and custom face filters, that can be superimposed on images and videos.

Many popular filters - such as Plastica - mimicked the effects of extreme cosmetic surgery.

Another filter - FixMe - showed how a cosmetic surgeon marked a person's face before procedures, while HolyBucks put dollar signs over a selfie and enhanced the user's lips.

Instagram said it was unsure how long it would take to remove all of the filters but many users welcomed the ban.

"Most people just pass filters off as 'girls having fun' and to just let girls enjoy things - but when you haven't posted a photo without one of these filters since 2016, then it clearly is something deeper than just 'fun'," one user said on Twitter.

However, some users said they would miss the effects.

"Has Instagram also considered me and what I'm supposed to do when I'm having a day where I look more clapped than normal? Old haggard witches need to look stunning too," tweeted one.

Research suggests excessive use of social media can cause feelings of depression - although some dispute those claims.

In February, Instagram said it would remove all graphic images of self-harm from the platform, amid concerns they could affect young and vulnerable people.

It followed the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who killed herself in 2017 after viewing graphic images of self-harm on the site.

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Instagram announced this week it would remove filters from the app that promote cosmetic surgery. An August update to the app let users submit their own filters to the app's Effects Gallery. Some of these filters, when applied to photos, would mimic...
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