Activists fear that body modification apps advertised on social media, TikTok and Instagram may lead to young adults falling victim to eating disorders, and ads show how apps can be used to change parts of the body, including making the waist thinner and adding muscle, according to BP. C.
Eating disorder charities said tech companies should consider the impact this will have on vulnerable people.
Those platforms said that the apps did not violate the ad guidelines, but TikTok added that it was reviewing its policies.
“It is constantly looking to enhance the support of a body positive environment,” the company said.
TikTok, a popular social media platform among teens, banned ads for fasting apps and weight-loss supplements last year.
The fuel for this epidemic
Hope Virgo, an advocate for awareness campaigns on eating disorders, said social media companies should be held accountable and “stop these unhealthy and unhelpful messages.”
“Over the past year, we have seen a massive increase in the number of people suffering from eating disorders, and while eating disorders are not necessarily due to poor body image, we know that there is some fundamental relationship between them,” she added.
“The fact that TikTok and Instagram are currently announcing apps for changing the body will be the fuel to further spread the eating disorder epidemic,” she added.
The SEED Association for Eating Disorder Control said it has seen a 68% increase in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 who have been seeking support since the pandemic.
Diane Mercer, a health journalist, has a history of eating disorders. She regularly posts about body positivity on TikTok and Instagram, and shoots “behind the scenes” videos of how body montages work. She told the BBC: “I know from my own experience that these apps can be catalysts.”
She added, “The applications make me look thinner and have prominent physical features, even if I train all the time I cannot really become this way. They remove the pores from my facial skin and this is simply not possible, but it can all be done with the click of a button.”
“The impact of such technology is enormous, and frankly I don’t think we’ll see the full result for years,” she said.
She said it was a matter of concern that the apps “target particularly vulnerable teens”.
“Teens and young girls do not fully understand these things, we also do not allow the marketing of weight loss products to children and we really need to lobby for a new organization around the applications that are allowed to target vulnerable audiences, especially when these apps do body montages,” she said.
There are many free apps available in both the Apple and Android app stores that provide compelling body enhancements.
Users can edit photos or videos, change the size and shape of the body and faces, smooth skin and strengthen muscles.
Duty of care
“We are spending more time on these platforms than ever before,” said Gemma Otten, Director of SEED.
She added, “With our return to normal life, we will not be able to hide behind screens or applications. People have been shown ways to distort their pictures on the Internet, but that pressures them in the real world.”
She added that social media companies should assume a “duty of care” and stop any advertisements that might harm body image.
Pitt, a UK charity fighting eating disorders, said: “Body-changing apps that encourage weight stigma or idealize thinning can cause distress for people who have an eating disorder or are at risk of developing the disease.”
Tom Quinn, director of external affairs at Pete, said: “We urge the makers of these apps to consider their impact on vulnerable people. We also encourage anyone suffering to report any content triggering an eating disorder whenever possible, but also consider taking a step further and researching. About other positive sources of support such as Pete. ”