Full Transparency: Should the Philippines Pass a Photoshop Disclosure Law Like These Other Countries? - The Scene

“This isn’t about stopping you touching up your wedding photos or removing red-eye on a post. It is targeted at those with significant, far-reaching influence and those with commercial intent.”

In June 2021, Norway made it illegal for social media personalities not to disclose when the images they post are retouched.

The law was prompted by the Norway Ministry of Children and Family Affairs—youth advocacy groups that spent years calling for action to address adolescents’ body issues, low-self esteem, and mental health problems. 

READ ALSO: 4 Social Media Enthusiasts Keep It Real In The Digital Landscape

Another European country is following suit due to the same rise in issues. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) admitted 42 percent more patients aged 17 and younger for anorexia and bulimia.

And as cases of eating disorders soar during the pandemic, they’ve been unable to treat every child while community services are also dealing with COVID patients. 

Triggered by quarantine

The rise in England’s eating disorder rates was also attributed to people’s social interaction being moved to social media, which could have triggered many young people’s mental struggles. In effect, general practitioner and UK Parliament Member Dr. Luke Evans proposed the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill last week.

Like Norway’s law, any commissioned UK content creator, advertiser, or publisher would have to disclose that the photo was altered as it is shared. 

In 2017, France already passed such legislation and banned too-thin fashion models (based on their body mass index) from walking on runways. 

More countries recognize the damaging effects of promoting unattainable beauty standards online—should the Philippines do the same? 

Socmed and body dissatisfaction

Filipinos have been the top worldwide social media users for six years, as reported We Are Social and Hootsuite. On average, Filipinos spend 4 hours and 15 minutes using apps like Facebook and Instagram. We clock in at nearly 11 hours per day for general internet usage, while the global average is only close to 7 hours.

At the same time, most of the population’s relatively young, with our median age being 25 years old. But does seeing the altered images of influencers and celebrities affect Filipinos as much as European countries?

study by Sora Kang and Shin-Jeong Kim surveyed Cavite students under eighteen. They found that poor eating attitudes and body dissatisfaction correlate to the teenager’s frequent social media usage.

Additionally, although mental health is growing awareness locally, there’s still more free treatment in countries like Norway, the UK, and France available to its citizens (the DOH only allots 5 percent of its budget to mental health). 

Yet, the three European countries acted upon these issues—showing the world it’s a legitimate problem for its youth and even adults. 

Harmful online trends

With the rise of TikTok and its ability to breed quickly picked-up trends, not all of them are happy dances and showing off outfits. In 2020, young women asked anyone who sees their video to comment on what they think will make them “prettier.” 

Some went as far as writing “nothing’s off-limits” and “be as harsh as you need”—all to get feedback from strangers suggesting they get lip fillers, a smaller chin, and other plastic surgeries highly undergone by celebrities and influencers.

@arina.bloom the amount of people using this app on IG is insane. #Faceapp #igmodel #beforeafter ♬ Still Into You Drill – SHO

The app currently has one billion users, and most of them are from South East Asia. In line with this, it might not be a matter if more countries should ban image retouching for people with large platforms—it would be when.

“This isn’t about stopping you touching up your wedding photos or removing red-eye on a post.” UK Prime Minister Dr. Even told the UK Parliament. “it is targeted at those with significant, far-reaching influence and those with commercial intent.”

Banner Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

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