Facebook recently got a snag in its quest to bring augmented reality face effects to its millions of users.
After a media disaster about a new filter for plastic surgery called "FixMe" provoked by mental health concerns, Facebook has decided to ban plastic surgery filters on its Spark AR platform.
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Back in August, Facebook gave the general public access to its Spark AR platform, which allowed everyone on Instagram and Facebook to create face filters.
What could go wrong? Well, predictably, the larger developer base had some fun with the new tools and made a few plastic surgery filters.
Now, via Spark AR, Facebook and Instagram no longer support augmented reality face fillers, facelifters and lip fillers. In addition, it now takes longer to approve new filters, and offensive filters are being removed from the Instagram Effect Gallery, as Spark AR shared in a recent Facebook post for the creator community.
Facebook seems to curtail the freedom to share disturbing images on most platforms. Last year, the company introduced a policy to block images of self-harm that could cause copycat behavior.
Controversial filter "FixMe", shown above, disappeared from Instagram more than two weeks ago, but the problem is still far from being resolved, Daniel Mooney. Mooney told the BBC that he had no intention of advertising plastic surgery, and blamed Instagram influencers whose faces show off real plastic surgery.
Another Instagram filter called "Holy Bucks" (see above) that gives users lips formed by augmented reality, became famous this month when it was used by people like Kylie Jenner, Ariana Grande, Millie Bobby Brown, Bella Hadid and Winnie Harlow.
The quirky filter also covers the user's face with pink dollar signs and freckles, a look that became a meme. From the time of writing, this filter is still available for download on the Instagram profile of the creator, user holymariia, and so far the ban has not affected its popularity.
Given the popularity of these types of Instagram filters, Facebook and / or its critics may be concerned that such filters may contribute to mental health issues. According to some investigations, obsessed with practiced images of themselves, can give rise to a psychological disorder known as selfie dysmorphia (or Snapchat dysmorphia, a term coined by UK-based Dr. Tijion Esho).
A recent study also pointed to a link between the use of Instagram photo filters and the acceptance of plastic surgery. There are still no conclusive data that decorating Instagram filters will certainly cause mental disorders, but a quick look at social media indicates that at least some people may use them to investigate decisions about personal surgery .
But it's because these filters are so popular that some Spark AR makers were upset about the changes. Most who commented on Facebook Spark AR crackdown post seemed to be concerned that "good" filters would be merged with filters for plastic surgery and removed. As one commentator claimed, a face filter distorts almost by definition facial features as a plastic surgeon would.