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TikTok and Snapchat defend use of photo filters

‘They are playful’: TikTok and Snapchat defend use of photo filters amid fears they can impact on youngsters’ mental health

  • Social media giants defended ‘playful’ photo filters as MPs raised concerns 
  • TikTok’s Alexandra Evans  filters ‘developmentally necessary’ for teenagers  
  • Denied platform included filters to encourage a ‘stereotypical sense of beauty’

Social media giants yesterday defended ‘playful’ photo filters as MPs raised concerns about the impact they can have on youngsters’ mental health.

Executives from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee.

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said filters could alter pictures to remove blemishes, change skin tone and slim faces. She asked bosses about their ‘moral responsibility to promote a sense of reality’.

Social media giants defended ‘playful’ photo filters and TikTok’s Alexandra Evans denied the platform included filters to encourage a ‘stereotypical sense of beauty’.  (Stock image)

TikTok’s Alexandra Evans denied the platform included filters to encourage a ‘stereotypical sense of beauty’. 

She insisted it was ‘developmentally necessary’ for teenagers to be ‘exploring their sense of self’.

She pointed to spring onion and unicorn filters which she said were ‘playful’. 

Henry Turnbull, of Snapchat, said its filters were not designed to propagate a ‘perfect image’.

Facebook’s Richard Earley said he was not familiar with a ‘chav’ filter.

He said: ‘Without seeing it I can’t say whether it would break one of our rules but all of our regular community standards apply to filters, just as they do to any other post or piece of content on Facebook that includes not allowing things that are bullying or harassing, and not allowing people to be cruel or insensitive towards others.’

He added: ‘Even as we have gotten better at understanding what is and isn’t right in this space, and as we’ve gotten better and better at enforcing it, it’s likely that it’s often the case that sometimes things do get through our checks and that’s why we always allow anyone to report any piece of content on our platform.’

Executives from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee. (Stock image)

Executives from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee. (Stock image)

Snapchat said it has ‘changed as a company’ in recent years and apologised for past filters such as a Bob Marley face which was accused of promoting blackface at the time.

The Bob Marley lens was criticised when it launched on Snapchat in 2016 to mark April 20 – also known as Weed Day – by allowing users to superimpose the late reggae singer’s face on to their own.

Mr Turnbull told MPs the lens was developed with Bob Marley’s family, but admitted it was ‘misguided’ and would be ‘rejected’ under the app’s current rules.

He said: ‘People rightly took offence at the time, four years ago.

‘It’s not available on Snapchat now, this type of lens would be rejected now under our current policies, we don’t allow any lenses that would be considered offensive by a group of people or that can foster negative stereotypes and we’ll reject lenses that are developed by our user community as well as anything produced by Snap, so this was definitely a mistake.

‘I’d like to apologise to anybody who took offence, it was a really misguided lens but it was more than four years ago and we’ve certainly changed as a company since then.’

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