Instagram Bans ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ Filters

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On October 18th, Spark AR, the company behind Instagram’s new library of face filters, announced it will ban “all effects associated with plastic surgery” from the app’s Effect Gallery. The company is doing so in order as part of its strategy around what it calls its “well-being policies.”

The effects targeted by this new policy include those that make users look as though they’ve had lip injections, brow lifts, cheek fillers, and other plastic surgeries. Though it’s unclear exactly what filters will be removed at this point, Facebook commenters are predicting it will focus on user-generated filters, such as the popular “Plastica” effect and “Bad Botox.” (Your dog ears and vomiting rainbows filters are probably safe.)

Spark AR and Instagram have already removed a filter called “Fix Me” that put pre-surgery pen marks on a person’s face with notes that said, like the title suggests, “fix me.” (Yikes.) That now-deleted filter also added bruises on a user’s face, as if, for example, they had just undergone a facelift.

“We want Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being,” the company shared in an October 18th Facebook post.
Along with removing plastic-surgery-like effects from the Instagram Effect Gallery, Spark AR will also postpone approval of new effects related to plastic surgery “until further notice.” And the company vows to continue to remove “policy-violating effects” as they’re tracked down and flagged.

“We’re unable to provide exact timing on the new policy rollout, but will share updates as soon as possible,” Spark AR wrote in their post. However, with the policy now published, we can only assume that Instagram and Spark AR will instate the new rules ASAP.

Of course, this move won’t stop Instagram users from altering photos with third-party services, as one commenter notes: “So do we ban people from FaceTuning their Instagram photos too?”

Last month, Instagram similarly announced that it was cracking down on users’ abilities to hawk diet products to users under 18 or by using “miraculous claims” about their results.

We hope that these changes can help support a healthier self-image, though we know there’s still a lot more social media has to work on.

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