Hamburg pushes for compulsory labelling of beauty filters on social media

The city-state of Hamburg has spoken out strongly in favour of mandatory labels on social media images in order to hamper false beauty ideals that may impact young women's mental health.

Instagram and Photos app logos.
Many people use beautify filters on apps like Instagram. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Silas Stein

At the start of the year, the Hanseatic city took over the chairmanship of the Women’s and Equalities Ministers’ conference and says it will use this position to highlight the issue of unrealistic beauty standards. 

“As part of our chairmanship, we want to raise awareness of the problem areas of beauty ideals and beauty mania on social media platforms,” Equal Opportunities Senator Katharina Fegebank, acting chair of the Conference of Gender Equality and Women’s Affairs Ministers (GFMK), told DPA.

Fake photo filters are currently a hot topic in mental health and equality discussions. Often used by influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram, these filters can beautify the subject of the photo by perfecting their skin, altering their features and even changing their body shape.

READ ALSO: Sex-ed to sexism: New series explores being a woman in Germany and the US

“Young women in particular often give in to a false ideal of beauty through – subsequently edited – pictures in the social media, on Instagram or other platforms,” the Green politician argued. 

“If they don’t realise that a lot of what is shown is not real at all, but is only created with photo filters, this can have terrible consequences, up to and including depression or suicidal thoughts.”

According to Fegebank, the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the problem worse.

“Current studies show that especially among teenagers, depression and suicidal thoughts due to loneliness and isolation have increased very strongly,” she said.

“This is also related to the pressure that arises when you are constantly told you have to conform to a perfect ideal.”

Under Hamburg’s plans, influencers would be required to label their images to reveal when filters and other photo editing tools had been used to alter their appearance. 

READ ALSO: How much do women in Germany earn compared to men?

The city-state will submit a motion on this ahead of the next Gender Equality and Women’s Affairs Ministers Conference in summer. 

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Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.