Instagram bans 'plastic surgery' filters amid mental health concerns

Instagram is banning selfie filters that imitate plastic surgery in an effort to overcome claims the app is damaging for youth and their mental health.

A number of filters emulating the effects of cosmetic surgery have become increasingly popular on the photo-sharing platform, fuelling long-running concerns over the app's impact on mental health - particularly in young people.

Instagram selfie filters use augmented reality to morph the face or superimpose objects onto a user through virtual effects.

A now-removed filter, dubbed 'Fix Me', replicated pen drafts of prospective nips and tucks on the face and mimicked deep bruising around the eye sockets, nose and cheekbones.

Another labelled 'Plastica' resembled an exaggerated version of surgery, giving Instagram users over-inflated lips and plumped-up cheeks.

The app has now decided to ban filters that mimic going under the knife.

Augmented reality platform Spark AR, who provides the filters to Instagram, released a Facebook statement on Saturday.

The platform released a statement via Facebook.
The platform released a statement via Facebook. Photo credit: Spark AR / Facebook

The company said it's in the process of "removing all effects associated with plastic surgery from the Instagram Effect Gallery", postponing approval for similar effects and continuing to remove policy-violating effects as they are identified.

"We want Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being," the company wrote.

"At this time, we're not able to provide exact timing on the new policy rollout."

Changes to Instagram earlier in the year allowed users to create their own custom filters. Although Spark AR didn't create the worrying filters, the company did approve them to be used by Instagram's 1 billion users, the New York Post reports.

In September, the popular platform banned celebrities and influencers such as Kim Kardashian from promoting diet fads. The app has also implemented technology to hide promotional posts related to plastic surgery and weight-loss products from the feeds of under-18 users.

Research suggests face-changing filters can make people feel worse about their own looks.