Google and Snapchat turn off photo filters because of their impact on self-image

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Google and Snapchat disable so-called beauty filters for photos and videos. These would have a negative impact on self-image, Google reported in a Thursday blog post.

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Google will first make the change to the camera app of the new Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 phones. This will be done soon via a software update. The filters remove minor irregularities in the skin during selfies.

On these devices it is still possible to use the filters, but they are disabled by default. Snapchat says that it supports the Google policy and that it also implements it in its smartphone apps. Filters have been deactivated by default for some time.

The companies are also going to change terminology so that the filters are no longer directly associated with beauty. Google now speaks, for example, of a retouching function.

Google wants to take into account the mental state of users in this way. According to the company, multiple studies show that a default beauty filter has a negative impact on the self-image of users.

Enabling a beauty filter on the camera by default would unconsciously change users’ ideal of beauty. After all, they cannot match the image of the phone camera when looking in a mirror.

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