Guest post by Jenny Ojanperä

Influencer Law Clinic series

12/2/20212 min read

Almost every person opens at least one social media site every day. Although younger generations perhaps more than the older ones. Before our eyes are these fabulous and completely flawless influencers with whom we easily compare ourselves. We don’t realise there’s much more behind the pictures. What you can see is just one second that has taken a lot of time to create. Several images have been edited, and only the best ones have been selected.

This phenomenon puts a lot of pressure on young people. 70% of healthy weight women have said they want to be leaner, and up to 80% of ten-year-olds are afraid of gaining weight. [1] I can even see this in my circle of friends. Some wrestle with their weight, and others want to look more and more like some influencers.

A few days ago, I showed a few of my friends Danae Mercer’s Instagram page. [2] This woman with 2.3 million followers shows the editing process behind glorious Instagram pictures. She alters light, posture, filters and clothes, turning from an average person into a smoking supermodel. Each of my friends was very confused about how much difference small changes make. In reality, the body looks quite different from the pictures. This is worrying because it largely explains why the body image of today’s young people is often highly distorted. It is gratifying to see a growing number of influencers like Mercer trying to spread awareness. However, this is not enough, and our society must also find other ways to solve the problem.

Norway took a significant step forward in July by amending Norway’s Marketing Act. The amendment includes a requirement that applies to all social media platforms. All postings related to advertising or other promotional purposes that have been edited must be labelled. Editing can be anything from editing the body to just using a filter. Violation of the law can result in hefty fines or even a prison sentence. People welcomed the new rule. Most influencers said they were in favour of a new, more open and honest social media environment. [3]

It should be noted that the rule only applies to marketing and promotions. However, this is not necessarily an excessive constraint. Most influencers collaborate with different companies. It follows that their collaboration images cannot be edited or must contain a label. Due to the fact that influencers normally edit their standard posts, commercial (and, thereby, non-edited) posts stand out in their accounts. The appearance of feeds is a big part of Instagram pages. Feed is the page where all the pictures are shown same time. If some of the images stand out, this is a clear motivation to get the other images to fit into the crowd. Thus, the rule is more likely to reduce image editing also in connection with other photos and videos. Of course, postures, lighting, and even differences between camera settings and angles are also affecting, but at least all completely unnatural bodies would be excluded from our everyday environment.

We can therefore consider whether other countries should follow Norway’s example. The UK tried, but the bill did not go through in Parliament. Perhaps when we observe the situation in Norway for a few months and see the impact of the reform, this will motivate other countries to follow.


[2] https://www.instagram.com/danaemercer/

[3] For example, Agnete Husebye (one of Norway’s top influencers)