Many people, especially Gen Z, are moving away from, or abandoning, excessive advertising and suggested posts on social media platforms, opting for more authentic interfaces and apps. That is because certain social media apps blur the lines between reality and falsities, especially when it comes to digitally altering bodies, making it harmful to people and their mental health. But this may not be the case for long as retouched photos of influencers may potentially appear with a warning moving forward.
In the UK, MPs want to impose a law for posts that display digitally altered images (especially paid posts) where a logo marks the fact that the post has been altered. This means that influencers will now have to announce when a photo has been altered. This is part of an effort to combat a rise in eating disorders among young people as well as a rise in mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
A similar law already exists in Norway, making it illegal for influencers to upload a paid post on their social media platforms without declaring that the photo has been retouched.
Early in 2022, the UK followed in Norway’s footsteps and put a bill forward for a similar disclaimer. While the bill has not been fully integrated yet, MPs in the Health and Social Care Committee are adding pressure on the government in order to reduce the harm and impact on Gen Z.
The committee also requested that influencers stop posting filtered or unrealistic photographs of themselves on social media and that advertisers include a greater range of body aesthetics. They’re also asking for regulations on the promotion of cosmetic services like fillers, as well as for those who are providing the services to check the customers’ medical and mental health history and provide a 48-hour flexibility for cancelation in case the clients change their minds.
Eating disorders have been on the rise since 2021, with hospital admissions for bulimia and anorexia rising by 41%. Much of this rise can be attributed to the pandemic and the fact that it increased our presence online, making it easier to be exposed to and affected by influencers’ posts and advertisements that, more often than not, showcase altered images of bodies that are unrealistic and hard to attain.
Clearly, action on this front is necessary, especially when it comes to laws and being able to regulate this kind of content on social media.
It may come as no surprise then, that Gen Z critiquing their past selves is TikTok’s latest trend.