#filterdrop, colourism and misinformation

Authors: Zoe Dawson, Jece Shunmugam, Liam Clifford
  • Posted on: February 9, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the one to watch, and the one to read in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting the #filterdrop campaign, colourism in the UK media, and fighting misinformation together.

| NAILED IT: #filterdrop 

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced a landmark ruling against influencers using image-altering filters while promoting beauty products. It was determined that social media adverts with filters applied could exaggerate the effects of products and mislead consumers. 

The ASA’s decision was sparked by the #filterdrop campaign, launched on Instagram by makeup artist Sasha Louise Pallari to start a conversation about the ethics of filters in social media marketing. 

“I felt there needed to be stricter guidelines around how products and cosmetics were advertised online,” Pallari wrote on Instagram last week. “Today those rulings have been put in place and it’s because of this campaign… The amount of people that will no longer compare themselves to an advert that isn’t achievable without a filter is going to be prolific. We did it. I’m so proud.”

The ASA’s decision is an example of just how powerful grassroot campaigning can be — that making noise about the things you’re passionate about can have a real impact on people’s lives. Pallari started the #filterdrop campaign only 8 months ago, with the ultimate aim to have face-changing filters removed from Instagram. 

While this new rule is a fantastic step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go in making social media as safe a space as possible — for young women in particular. Psychologists have even coined the term “snapchat dysmorphia” to describe the growing number of young people that are having cosmetic surgery to make their looks closer to the edited versions of themselves they see on social media. 

If the #filterdrop movement continues to grow, we can hope a filter-free future isn’t far away.

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Colourism at Channel 4

Channel 4 and Rochelle Humes have been at the forefront of a Twitter storm after announcing last week that Rochelle would be leading an investigative documentary exploring why Black women are more at risk of dying during childbirth and pregnancy. 

Many commentators were upset that Rochelle, a biracial woman, was potentially taking the role away from a Black woman, Candice Braithwaite, that many assumed would be the host. Candice, a dark-skinned Black woman, has previously spoken about her traumatic experiences following childbirth, where she almost died. Since then, she has focused on increasing the attention on Black maternal mortality, as well as other issues Black women face.

Many saw the move as highlighting the very little representation dark-skinned Black women in the UK have today, the so-called ‘light-skin bias’ — where biracial or lighter-skinned Black women are more represented in the media. The outpouring of support toward Candice stemmed from growing frustration of this, heightened by the fact that her lived experience was seemingly being ignored.

In 2021, we should be doing better by putting the right people in the right roles. Otherwise, we risk taking away from the very real problems being spoken about. 

| ONE TO WATCH:  Fighting misinformation as one

In what feels like a singularly divisive time for politics, one recent topic seems to have stood apart to unite voices from both right and left: COVID-19 vaccination.

Despite a year of controversy surrounding the UK government’s less than stellar handling of lockdowns, the tone of conversation and coverage around the rollout of the vaccine has remained notably positive and clear on both sides of the aisle,  without devolving into fake news or fear-mongering.

That’s good news. As our strategy lead Ayesha writes in her latest op-ed, we’ve seen the damage that misinformation and mistrust can cause. It’s never been more important for there to be clear and concise communications to the public. 

The results of keeping that communication clear speak for themselves — the UK rollout of the vaccine continues to progress mostly, it seems, on track. According to the Government task force, all over-50s in the UK are due to have been offered their first dose of the vaccine by May. And while up to one fifth of people globally say they’d refuse the vaccine if offered to them, confidence is increasing slowly but surely.

The work is not yet finished, but it does go to show the real-world impact that having both liberal and conservative spokespeople acting as one can have on an issue. Unity is not impossible — and it’s certainly effective.