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Why experts say Norway’s retouched photo law won’t help fight body image issues



In an effort to fight the potentially harmful effect of unrealistic beauty standards on mental health, Norway recently became the latest country to pass regulations targeting manipulated images. The new legislation will require social media influencers and advertisers to attach a disclaimer label to retouched images. Violations will be punishable by fines.

On its face, the measure appears to be a promising move motivated by good intent: to protect the public, especially younger people, from psychological harm. A 2016 study found that exposure to doctored Instagram selfies “directly led to lower body image” among participating adolescent girls. What’s more, the girls who saw the edited photos rated them as more pretty or attractive than the unedited images and believed they were realistic, the researchers wrote.

But experts say the existing research into the effects of image labels and disclaimers on mental health suggests that such laws probably won’t be effective — and may, in some cases, do more harm than good.

“It’s a Band-Aid for a gaping wound, and it seems like a public performative statement that doesn’t address the root systemic problem,” said Sophia Choukas-Bradley, an assistant professor in the psychological and brain sciences department at the University of Delaware who studies the effects of social media on adolescents. Although she believes that the effects of social media on body image are a significant problem in many countries, “making big moves without understanding all the consequences has historically led to unintended side effects,” she said.

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The Norwegian regulations were passed as an amendment to the country’s Marketing Control Act and are intended to “raise awareness among people that the perfect bodies in advertisements do not show people as they appear in real life,” according to the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Families. Label requirements are limited to photo and video advertisements that include images of people whose body size, frame or skin have been altered; changing hair or retouching a bruise, for instance, may not require a label.

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The regulations, which the ministry said are scheduled to go into effect in July 2022, will also apply to images shared by social media influencers and other public figures who post edited photos of themselves while advertising products or services.

“Our goal is that children and young people grow up without experiencing a pressure to change their bodies,” Reid Ivar Bjorland Dahl, state secretary with the Ministry of Children and Families, said in an emailed statement to The Washington Post.

While Dahl said that Norwegian surveys of children and high school students indicated that labeling could be a useful measure, he noted that the labeling law was just “one part of the Norwegian Government’s efforts to combat beauty and appearance pressures.” He said these issues also would be addressed through “different methods such as legislation, education and collaboration with responsible business.”

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In addition to increasing public awareness about how images are modified, Dahl said, the government hopes the legislation will encourage advertisers to “show people as they are” and feature more diverse models.

The news has been met with positive reactions from some Norwegian influencers.

“There are so many people that are insecure about their body or face,” Madeleine Pedersen, an Instagram influencer, told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat. Pedersen added that she has struggled with body issues because of Instagram. “The worst part is that I don’t even know if the other girls I looked up to did edit their photos or not. That’s why we all need answers — we need this law.”

Norway isn’t the first country to attempt to address body-image ideals by labeling edited photos. In 2017, France announced a similar law covering commercial images featuring models whose bodies had been edited.

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But although these laws can send an important message that people in power care about preserving mental health and reducing outside pressures regarding physical appearances, experts don’t think the mandates will help many individuals or spark significant societal change.

Studies examining the use of warning labels that alert viewers to doctored images, including those focused on young people, have not been encouraging. Researchers in Austria worked with adolescents to develop a disclaimer for photos, then tested the effect of the disclaimer on another small group of similarly aged participants. They concluded that the method is “a rather unsuccessful way of disclosing the lack of realism of media images” for tweens and teens, according to results published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Children and Media.

Generally speaking, disclaimers “don’t buffer any of the detrimental effects of the images on people’s mood, people’s body image in the way that they are intended to,” said Rachel Rodgers, an associate professor in the applied psychology department at Northeastern University who has done her own research on the effect of labeling photos. “In fact, we also know that, for some people, they can increase appearance comparisons.”

One theory, experts said, is that adding a vague label might cause people to engage more with the edited media; they might, for example, try to determine what was manipulated. “It just increases the attention on those photos, and it increases the cognitive capacity that’s being devoted to those photos, which is probably not a good thing, ultimately,” said Jacqueline Nesi, an assistant professor in the psychiatry and human behavior department at Brown University.

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Experts noted that adding disclaimers also fails to address the root causes of body-image issues. “There’s an entire system that’s set up to support certain body ideals, and our culture is all sort of part of that,” Nesi said.

The use of filters and editing on digital media, for instance, “build on practices that long predate” technology, such as makeup, said Pablo Boczkowski, a communication studies professor at Northwestern University. “It is important to try to address the causes of what is problematic rather than the symptoms, because sometimes, when you address the symptoms without addressing the causes, the symptoms just move around.”

A potential risk of enforcing labels is that people appearing in the images may find other, maybe more dangerous, ways to achieve their desired look, such as cosmetic surgery, disordered eating or excessive exercise routines, Choukas-Bradley said. “That’s an example of an unintended consequence of a law that has really wonderful intent, but doesn’t seem to be following the recommendations of psychology researchers really investigating this.”

Research into effective ways to protect against the harmful effects of social media is ongoing, and experts emphasized that there are a number of approaches outside of legislation that may be helpful.

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Online platforms can limit for-profit advertising of products or services that are directly focused on weight loss or other ways to change appearances, Rodgers said. In 2019, Instagram and Facebook announced that users under age 18 will be blocked from seeing such posts. Recently, Pinterest went a step further and banned weight loss ads.

Parents and schools can prioritize teaching young people social media literacy. Conversations about why unrealistic images are posted go beyond a basic disclaimer label, Choukas-Bradley said. “It educates kids about all the different ways reality may be distorted in social media.”

And as for lawmakers, the experts would rather see them take into account current research and fund more of it before passing legislation. “Often what we just feel in our gut is a good idea is not supported by research when you rigorously put that idea under the microscope,” Choukas-Bradley said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to move forward with policy changes if research suggests they’re not going to be helpful.”

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August





Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …





Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android





Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly


We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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