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Why Instagram’s plastic surgery filter ban is good news for our mental health

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Lauren Geall
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Instagram bans plastic surgery filters

Instagram has announced it will be removing all augmented reality (AR) filters which depict or promote plastic surgery on the platform.

Instagram has today taken another brilliant step against potentially harmful social media content by announcing that they will remove all augmented reality (AR) filters that depict or promote cosmetic surgery.

The filters in question virtually change a person’s features to make it look like they have had cosmetic procedures such as face lifts, lip injections or fillers.

One of the filters, called “Fix Me”, applied lines and drawings to the faces of users similar to those a cosmetic surgeon would draw on the face before surgery. The black lines are therefore supposed to highlight “problem areas”.

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In August, Instagram started allowing users to upload their own filters to the app for other people to use – but now this feature will be subjected to greater scrutiny by the platform.

This isn’t the first step Instagram has taken to minimise the potential damage content on the platform does to users’ mental health. Last month, the platform announced they would be restricting content related to weight loss products, dieting brands and cosmetic procedures.

Woman on Instagram
Instagram's plastic surgery filter ban: This isn’t the first step Instagram has taken to minimise the potential damage content on the platform does to users’ mental health.

“This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/detox industry,” said Jameela Jamil at the time. “Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world.”

The announcement comes as new research has shown that social media could be making people feel less confident about their smiles. A recent study conducted by Smile Direct Club found that only one in four British people feel confident about their smiles, with 500 of the 2000 people surveyed saying they felt like social media had affected their confidence in that area.

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And this isn’t the only research that has demonstrated the potentially negative impact applying filters to our Instagram photos and stories can have on our mental health and body image. In fact, some users have gone so far as to seek cosmetic surgery to make themselves look how they do in their filtered photos – a term coined “Snapchat dysmorphia” by Dr Tijion Esho.

While the dog or cat filters may be simply innocent fun, there’s something sinister about AR filters which physically change the way our faces look – and Instagram’s latest move is a step in the right direction. 

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Lauren Geall

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