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New legislation could curb the harmful impact of social media on body image | The Independent




The government’s forthcoming online harms bill presents a real opportunity for social media organisations to start assuming a greater duty of care for their users. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be campaigning for body image to be listed as a priority harm in this legislation, which, if successful, would recognise body image for the first time in UK law.

As recent developments from the Facebook leaks have highlighted, the need for this could not be more pressing.

Last year, I proposed the body image bill in parliament, which would require advertisers and influencers to label images that have been digitally altered. Israel, France, and, most recently, Norway, have all introduced similar legislation to protect young and vulnerable people from unrealistic and potentially dangerous depictions of the way we look.

While ultimately, I believe disclaimers still have a part to play in helping to solve the problem, the online harms bill is the perfect opportunity to recognise body image in law in the first instance.

There is little doubt that concerns about the way we look are having a profound effect on the population. In April, the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry into body image found that concerns about the way we look “start younger, last longer, and affect more people than ever before”, with 61 per cent of adults and 66 per cent of children feeling negative, or very negative, about their body image “most of the time”.

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Body image concerns and eating disorders among men are “rising rapidly”, the committee found, and there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of children accessing services for eating disorders since 2016/17. In my role as a GP before becoming an MP, I saw first-hand how social media use can have a real, tangible and dangerous impact on eating disorders and body confidence issues.

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Outside of the parliamentary and medical world, the 5Rights Foundation recently demonstrated how children joining social media are quickly exposed to content relating to eating disorders, self-harm and suicide. Their study created 10 “avatars” that replicated the experiences of young adults online, all registered on Instagram and TikTok with ages between 13 and 17.

When researchers searched #skinny on Instagram using one of the female avatars, they immediately found accounts promoting diets and eating disorders, as well as pages advertising appetite suppressants.

On TikTok, searching #thin, researchers found content showing users how to “get dream legs”, or lose weight in a week. When the avatar for 14-year-old “Justin” searched #bodygoals on Instagram, he was shown edited images of extremely muscular, well-built and athletic men. Interacting with this content quickly prompted the platform’s algorithms to find similar content it believed the avatars may like, in order to maximise engagement.

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From an early age, these platforms are helping to perpetuate the notion amongst young people that an ultimately unachievable presentation of body image is a “goal”, rather than showing their potentially impressionable users healthy, realistic body types. I believe these organisations have a real opportunity to use their influence for good, yet instead allow their platforms to host a wide range of damaging content.

In September, leaked internal Facebook documents revealed that Instagram, which Facebook owns, makes “body image issues worse for one in three teens”. A similar internal study found that more than 40 per cent of those who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feelings started when using Instagram.

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Facebook refutes the methods used in the 5Rights study, but presumably cannot deny the findings of its own damning internal research. This week, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen attended a parliamentary hearing, claiming that Facebook’s research also found that Instagram in particular encouraged “social comparison about bodies [and] about people’s lifestyles”. It is not difficult to see how such a phenomenon could prove highly damaging to body image and body confidence.

The government’s forthcoming online harms bill is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to tackle this problem. To fail to recognise body image would be a missed opportunity for social media users, their mental health and their body confidence.

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Dr Luke Evans is the Conservative MP for Hinckley and Bosworth

His #RecogniseBodyImage campaign is here

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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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