What Changes is Instagram Making In Response to Mental Health Concerns for Young People?

I’ve heard a lot of rumblings this week about changes coming to Instagram, in a step to protect the mental health of the platforms users – especially young people, under 18. So what are these changes and are they a step in the right direction for this highly criticised social network?

Instagram Head Adam Mosseri recently stated in a blog post: “The tragic reality is that some young people are influenced in a negative way by what they see online, and as a result they might hurt themselves. This is a real risk,”

Banning AR Plastic Surgery Filters

Instagram has decided to ban AR Filters that replicate the appearance of having plastic surgery. If you aren’t sure, AR Filters are the face filters, you can add to your Instagram stories and August the company rolled out an update which allowed anyone to publish their own AR Filter on the app. However this meant these filters going unchecked by the app developers and filters like the one below being created. In a bid to peel back the over editing and perfect image on Instagram these filters will now be removed from the app in the near future. As you can see the filter could be seen to promote these unrealistic beauty standards and in turn make young people compare themselves to this and strive for an unachievable standard.

Expanding Ban on Images/Memes/ Drawings Depicting Self Harm

Previously in February, Instagram banned all graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting, and also said it would prevent non-graphic content, such as images of healed scars, from showing up in search, hashtags and the explore tab. This ban is a further extension on that banning drawings, cartoons or any form of art depicting the same thing.

Influencers Promoting Weight-loss Products

Reality TV Stars Katie Price, Lauren Goodger and Georgia Harrison have all recently had their Instagram posts removed for promoting ‘BoomBod’ – Weight Loss Drink and ‘Protein Revolution’ – Weight Loss Gummies. These posts were banned by the ASA and deemed ‘irresponsible’. So why is this problematic for ASA.

ASA CAP Code 15.8 States : “Marketers must not state or imply that a balanced or varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general. Individuals should not be encouraged to swap a healthy diet for supplementation…

The ad’s therefore break ASA guidelines, as they advertise that the supplement is a meal replacement and will make you lose weight.

In my opinion these changes are all a great step in the right direction for Instagram, more regulations should be put in place on social media to protect the mental health of our young people. Do I think its censorship? No I don’t because some of it is just blatant lies, the celebrities above advertising the dieting products are simply being paid to do it and haven’t probably even used the product. How is that any different than adults seeing fake news, not to mention that young peoples minds are much more impressionable. Well done Instagram, now let’s see more from Facebook please.

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