Instagram Is Getting Rid Of Its Plastic Surgery Filters. But Is That Enough?

Anabel Pasarow

On the heels of its new restrictions against posts promoting weight loss and cosmetic procedures, Instagram is rolling out yet another measure to combat the ever-growing influence of body alteration, an industry that takes up real estate on nearly every corner of the app. Namely, there will be no more plastic surgery filters.

According to a Facebook statement made by Spark AR, the company that creates Instagram Story filters, over the coming weeks, the Effect Gallery in Instagram Stories will eliminate all filters that give the effect of plastic surgery, and approval of any new plastic surgery-related effects will be indefinitely postponed. As far as the reasoning behind this update, the company shared in its statement that the goal is for “Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being.”

These filters run the gamut from the hyper-realistic to the fantastical to the futuristic, including the uber-popular Plastica. Of course, filters, by design, are intended to augment reality, and one can reasonably ask why those that provide a free face lift or lip filler are any more misleading than the myriad freckle or makeup filters still safe on the app. And then there’s the undeniable presence of dozens of third-party photo editing apps, which are what most people use to edit their Instagram photos anyway. (These are arguably worse, since the fact of their usage isn’t indicated the way IG Story filters are named at the top of the Story.) Needless to say, there will still be a ton of unrealistic imagery on Instagram — much of it masked as real.

But ultimately, this ban represents a step towards an Instagram that better prioritises the mental health of its users — many of whom are susceptible to believing the falsehoods peddled by detox tea ads or that the heavily-Facetuned photos gracing their feeds are totally authentic — and encourages transparency across the platform.

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