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

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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”.

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.

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.

Dr Luke Evans is the Conservative MP for Hinckley and Bosworth

His #RecogniseBodyImage campaign is here

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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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

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.

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.

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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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?

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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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