ASA bans Instagram influencers' tanning ads for using "misleading" filters

Two Instagram influencers' tanning ads have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as they used filters that could be “misleading” and “likely to exaggerate” the effects of the tanning products.

The videos in question showed influencers using filters while advertising tanning products – two Instagram stories for Skinny Tan and one for Tanologist Tan – and all have been banned for applying a filter that “misleadingly exaggerated the effect the product was capable of achieving,” said the ASA.  

The UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media ruled that in both cases the posts were likely to have misled consumers. It also said this ruling means that brands, influencers and celebrities shouldn’t apply filters to photos that promote beauty products if the filters are likely to exaggerate the effects of the product.

The ASA said the content could still be misleading even if the name of the filter was referenced in the story. Ads that break these rules will be taken down and prohibited from appearing again. 

A spokesperson for ASA said: “An ongoing focus of our work in this area continues to be on raising awareness of the rules and supporting influencers with the guidance and tools they need to help get their ads right. 

"We're also working closely with the social media platforms who can and will enforce our rulings where an advertiser is unwilling or able to work with us."

The ASA’s ruling was in response to the #filterdrop campaign, created by Sasha Pallari, which calls for it to be compulsory for influencers to state when they are using filters to alter their images when promoting skincare or cosmetics. 

The use of filters on social media and its effect on consumers body confidence and mental health is a widely debated issue.

The BBC reported that Skinny Tan has reviewed its guidelines on the user-generated content it chooses to share on social media since the ASA ruling, while a spokesperson for Tanologist said it was disappointed but respected the ASA’s ruling. 

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The ASA has also been cracking down on beauty salons that illegally advertise botox on social media.