What are the potential new UK rules about declaring retouched photos on Instagram?

·2-min read
The legislation introduced earlier this year, called the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, was proposed by Dr Luke Evans. (PA Wire)
The legislation introduced earlier this year, called the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, was proposed by Dr Luke Evans. (PA Wire)

The UK could soon be cracking down on influencers who don’t declare that their photos have been retouched. It follows Norway and an existing forward thinking law that made it illegal for influencers to not disclaim when a paid-post on their social media was retouched, influencing parts of the world, like the UK, to follow suit.

Here is everything we know so far about the potential new law.

What is the potential new rule about declaring retouched photos on Instagram?

Earlier this year, the UK made steps to make this law, with a bill put forward for a logo to be displayed on any digitally-altered images of bodies. Why? The government hope that making people aware of when a photo isn’t “real”, will combat body dysmorphia online.

The legislation introduced earlier this year, called the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, was proposed by Dr Luke Evans. He is a GP turned Tory MP for Bosworth, Leicestershire, and it was brought to parliament on Wednesday 13 January. In short, the bill calls for better transparency, letting people know when influencers and brands have Photoshopped, FaceTuned or used other applications to edit a photo.

“If someone has been paid to post a picture on social media which they have edited, or advertisers, broadcasters or publishers are making money from an edited photograph, they should be honest and upfront about it.” Dr Evans told the House of Commons.

In practice, it would work in a similar way to how influencers must now legally state, usually through #ad, #spon or #paid, when their post is in partnership with another brand.

But that’s not all, former Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the committee he sits in are also calling on advertisers to feature a more diverse variety of body aesthetics. As well as the promotion of cosmetic services, such as fillers, to be regulated, and for those providing the service themselves to check the medical and mental health history of the customer, plus offer a 48-hour “cooling off” period to cancel, to make sure the customer is sure about their decision.

How likely is it that the law will be put in place?

As of April 2022, the bill is still awaiting its second reading but in the meantime, you can find updates on the campaign via Dr Evans’ website. However, other Health and Social Care Committee MPs are behind the campaign, and have rallied for the government to implement new laws to reduce the unrealistic body expectations impacting Gen Z.

Would this work in practice?

Currently, not all details have been ironed out, but some are questioning how a law like this would be enforced. Apps like FaceTune allow their users to edit photos in subtle ways, it could be easily overlooked.

But regardless, Dr Evans has strong support across the parties, so this bill could soon become reality.

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