Instagram influencers are no longer allowed to use face filters when advertising products - here's why

The rule change means 'misleading' adverts with filters risk being taken down (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that Instagram users should not apply filters to exaggerate the effects of a product.

The new ruling comes in response to an Instagram campaign named #filterdrop, which called for compulsory labelling where influencers have used filters that artificially altered their appearance when advertising products like skincare solutions or cosmetics.

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Sasha Pallari of Weston-super-Mare started the campaign in July 2020, with the hopes of seeing more "real skin" on Instagram. She told the BBC she is "over the moon" at the ASA's new ruling.

Filter use 'misled customers'

The watchdog looked at two examples in which Instagram filters had been applied to videos by users who were advertising tanning products to their followers - two Instagram stories for Skinny Tan Ltd and one for Tanologist Tan.

In both cases, the ASA ruled that the ads were likely, in both cases, to have misled consumers through the application of filters, which "misleadingly exaggerated the effect the product was capable of achieving".

The new ruling will apply to all UK-based influencers, celebrities and UK brands, with the ASA saying that, even if the name of the filter is stated, the mere use of it could still be misleading.

Any adverts deemed to be breaking these rules face being removed and banned from appearing a second time. The ASA has suggested this could cause damage to the influencer or advertiser's reputation and deter them from misleading use of filters in future.

A spokesman told the BBC: "An ongoing focus of our work in this area continues to be on raising awareness of the rules and supporting influencers with the guidance and tools they need to help get their ads right.

"We're also working closely with the social media platforms who can and will enforce our rulings where an advertiser is unwilling or able to work with us."

This is not the first time rules have changed around adverts on Instagram, with influencers and brands now obliged to disclose whether they have been paid to advertise a product on the platform, after changes introduced in 2018.