Web 'Influencers' Must Label Photoshopped Pics

John Lister's picture

People paid to promote products in Norway will be legally required to say if they've used photo editing tools. The new law also covers using photo filters.

The law has already been passed by legislators but the date it takes effect hasn't yet been confirmed. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

The rules will apply to any photo that's posted for promotional purposes. It will also apply to users - sometimes dubbed "influencers" - who are receiving payment or other benefits in return for making the post. Any manipulated image will need to carry a warning label, designed by the government, that tells users it has been manipulated.

The law was designed by the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs and is designed to tackle fears that people viewing such images develop unrealistic ideas about bodies.

Law Tackles Unrealistic Images

While lawmakers have approved the principle of the new rules, it's possible they could prove tricky to apply in practice as defining manipulation may be difficult. For example, it could be argued that cropping an image counts as manipulation, but taking that logic to the extreme, all pictures are manipulated by the photographer's decisions of what lighting to use or how to frame the image.

The Norwegian law aims to tackle this by concentrating on the results rather than the methods. It says the warning label is necessary in cases where the manipulation means "the person's body in the advertisements deviates from reality in terms of body shape, size and skin." (Source: stortinget.no)

Manipulation Hard To Define

That's still created some confusion about what alterations will and won't breach the new rules. For example, some posters say they change lighting levels and color balance to alter the "mood" of the image and believe this should not require a warning.

Meanwhile there seems to be more support for the warning requirement to apply to filters that soften and smooth a promotional image, affecting the apparent complexion of a model.

As well as tackling body image issues, the law's backers also say it is necessary to uphold legal principles that advertisements should not be misleading.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you like to see similar laws where you live? Can such warnings work? If you support such warnings, what would you class as "manipulated" images?

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Gurugabe's picture

I wonder if that would apply to include any special manipulation the makeup artist used like shadowing and contouring?

matt_2058's picture

It should be easy to create clear specifications when it comes to images. It's not hard to say '...any manipulation once an image is taken, be it digitally or on film, is considered an alteration...' Makeup and lighting of the set is not the same as digitally changing the skin tones, textures, and features. Just one look at a magazine cover is proof, as there is no way the skin of a 75 yr-old celeb looks as smooth and youthful as a 25 yr-old.

Are there any consequences to violating this rule? If not, then what's the point?

In the US, there are already 'truth in advertising' laws with the FTC being the monitoring agency. But you'd never guess there are what seems to be strict rules. Sadly, the FTC seems to be focused on health-related claim verbiage than the total picture.