'Plastic surgery' filters to be removed from Instagram

Social media filters which allow users to look like they have undergone plastic surgery are to be removed from Instagram.

Spark AR, a company which creates the augmented reality for the platform, said in a statement it would withdraw them in an update to its "well-being" policies.

It said it wants "effects to be a positive experience" and is re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being".

It pledged to remove all effects associated with plastic surgery from the Instagram effect gallery and postpone approving new related effects until further notice.

It added it would "continue to remove policy-violating effects as they are identified".

The move comes as the platform bans posts promoting diets, in a move to clean up its act with regards to the health of its users.

Weight loss posts are among those to have also been banned from the platform. Credit: PA

Senior Instagram executives told MPs in May that the firm would pay closer attention to appearance-changing photo filters over concerns about the impact they may have on people's body image.

"I think that body image is a really important topic, broadly speaking, not just on Instagram, and this is something that we are taking really seriously, especially in some of the research we are doing," Vishal Shah, head of product at Instagram, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The social network has been under increased scrutiny following a number self-harm incidents, notably Molly Russell, a 14-year-old who took her own life in November 2017 after viewing disturbing material online.

Her family believe harmful content on social media was a contributory factor after finding material relating to depression and suicide on her accounts, and have called for tech firms to be held to account.

What is the impact of social media on the mental health of young people?

Earlier this year, ITV News explored why people are increasingly digitally altering the way they look for social media posts, and the impact on mental health.

Psychologist Dr Amita Jassi told ITV News: "Social media can really play into their distress and perpetuate body dysmorphic disorder."

"It's characterised by a sufferer really being preoccupied by what they perceive to be a flaw in their appearance which other people don't see at all.

"There's high risks of suicide, ideation and self-harm."

Speaking to social media influencer Junaid Ahmed - a self-confessed 'selfie addict' - he said there was a pressure to keep up with other influencers and "get that perfect selfie".

" As Instagram's progressed and there's all these filters out there, all these social media apps have come out," he said.

"There's so many out there that you have to use to compete with everyone else."

  • Watch the full story: 'How taking selfies became an addiction: What are the risks of photo-editing apps?'