A new ruling has told influencers to stop using ‘misleading’ filters to exaggerate the effect of beauty products in paid adverts, following a months-long social media campaign.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) made the decision, which will apply to brands, influencers and celebrities based in the UK, following make-up artist Sasha Pallari’s #filterdrop campaign that encouraged influencers to show their ‘real skin’ when promoting beauty products.
The ruling states that simply referencing the use of a filter on their Instagram posts does not go far enough; instead, brands and influencers must avoid applying filters that exaggerate the real impact of the products they are promoting. Ads that break the new rules will now be taken down and banned from being reposted.
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Pallari, 29, told BBC News she was ‘over the moon’ with the impact of her campaign, which began in July 2020 and soon attracted attention from celebrities, social media users and politicians. As someone who regularly uploads unfiltered selfies herself in an attempt to promote body positivity, Pallari said she worried about the pressure young women on social media felt to match unrealistic beauty standards.
Speaking about the ruling, she said:
I feel like the detrimental effect this is having on social media users has finally been taken seriously and this is a huge step in the right direction for how filters are used and the way cosmetics are advertised online.
I can now help make a difference to how these women view themselves in the mirror and that’s amazing.
The ASA made the decision after examining two examples where filters were added to sponsored content on Instagram promoting tanning products. The agency said the filters ‘misleadingly exaggerated the effect the product was capable of achieving’.
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In a statement, Skinny Tan, one of the companies ruled against by the ASA, said that although ‘the intention behind the particular Instagram stories in question was not to mislead but rather to share [the influencer’s] positive comments and experience with using our products, we do fully understand our responsibility as a brand to protect consumer interests’.
While the new rules are an important first step, Pallari says that she will continue to fight for the removal of ‘face-altering filters’ from Instagram, which many have claimed promote plastic surgery by promoting ‘ideal’ facial features such as a reduced jawline, big lips and a smaller nose. It’s not clear how Instagram plans to enforce the new rulings, although influencers on the platform are asked to comply with advertising standards.
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