Influencers could soon have to admit if their body’s been retouched

Hey everyone, I came across this interesting news out of the UK House of Commons that I thought is relevant to this course. In January of this year, MP Luke Evans proposed the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, which calls on social media influencers and brands to disclose any digital alterations in photos that they post on their pages. In the words of Evans, the bill requires that “[i]f 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.” This UK bill follows similar laws recently enacted in other countries, such as Norway, to combat growing trends of body dysmorphia and eating disorders among the youth population associated with exposure to such content online.

I think that bringing a law like this to Canada would be an interesting proposition. On one hand, I very much welcome greater transparency in this space, where the widespread use of Photoshop (in addition to exogenous hormones) has created unrealistic and unhealthy expectations for many people. I also think, in general, greater regulation of social media to make it less stimulating and to thereby curb its use would result in a net benefit for society. On the other hand, however, I wonder what kinds of freedom of speech, artistic expression, and perhaps technological neutrality issues this type of regulation would raise. Furthermore, with the ongoing transition to the more anonymized and decentralized Web 3.0, I wonder how sustainable the efficacy of legislation like this will be in the coming years.

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