Norway is now making influencers and other advertisers inform viewers when they have digitally altered the appearance of someone in an ad, in an effort to limit the negative body image promoted on Instagram and other social media platforms.
A change in the law coming into force in July stipulates that digitally manipulated appearances in paid advertisements must be marked with a special kind of notice.
This includes any changes to body shape, size and skin, for example changes in facial shape, broader shoulders and narrower hips – some of the most common manipulations offered by “beauty filters” and apps designed to “beautify” selfies.
Pictures and videos of extremely thin people still show up on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube without warning, and often in an explicitly positive context.
Media experts have warned that unhealthy body images on social media can be particularly dangerous for younger teenagers, who are discovering their own bodies and are often dissatisfied with their looks.
Norway’s measure is intended to help make consumers aware that people are not always shown in advertising as they look in reality. Ultimately, the aim is to portray less idealised bodies in advertising and thus protect younger people in particular.
“Finally we are getting a powerful measure against unhealthy body pressure that especially children and young people are exposed to,” said the Norwegian Minister for Children and Family Affairs, Kjersti Toppe.
The labelling obligation applies to all traditional and social media and explicitly also to influencers and other people who post advertisements online on the internet and in social media. Those who do not comply with it will face a fine.
The notice should take up about 7% of the image area and be placed clearly visible in the upper left corner of the advertisement. Both those who have created the advertisement and the advertisers who want to earn money with it can be held responsible.