November 07, 2019
With the use of social media and apps, Augmented Reality is becoming a part of mainstream culture, with apps such as Pokemon Go & Snapchat. Now with technology, it is easier than ever before to use this in everyday life. Earlier this year in August, Instagram allowed users to create their own virtual filters on posts and stories, and users can try out any of the filters created. This was developed through Spark AR (an organisation that is part of Facebook, which owns Instagram). With this update, a new trend emerged; AR filters that allow users to see how they would look with cosmetic surgery without undergoing the knife, including but not limited to overdone lip fillers, nose jobs and much more. The extreme popularity of these filters such as ‘badly botched’ & ‘Plastica’ created public concern on users perception of what is real and fake. Studies have shown that there is a link to the use of social media and unhealthy body standards and some form of body dysmorphia. Spark AR created AR filters to unleash creativity and allowed its users to express themselves, however, they are banning all filters that give the effect of plastic surgery as they see this as harmful. Spark AR released a statement about how they will be removing filters that give the effect of plastic surgery stating that “We want Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being.” Now when using these filters, there is information about the filter and where it’s created in the top left corner, therefore users are aware of what is being shown to them. Even with Spark AR banning these filters, users can still access filters from third-party applications that can be used on Instagram, allowing them to use such filters without their audience being aware of it.
In summary, this shows us that Instagram is taking measurable steps to make sure its user’s mental health is being taken seriously. Other practices have been made such as; restricting posts promoting weight loss and cosmetic procedures to under 18s, setting up tools which allows users to see how much time they spend on the app and trialling to hide Instagram likes on users accounts. With all these changes and now Spark AR, it is clear to see that the mental health of Instagrams users is a top priority. Although Spark AR has not given a date for when these changes will be made, it is important to see changes are being implemented.
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