PARIS — France’s government is pushing back against the distorted senses of reality influencers’ filtered or retouched images might give online viewers.
The country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire held a press conference on Friday, where he announced France to be the first European nation putting in place a comprehensive framework to regulate influencers.
There are about 150,000 of them in France.
Le Maire lauded the metier of influencer as dynamic, one that creates jobs and celebrates French culture and creativity, but said it is key to make sure influencers are protected, and that there are no people profiteering from consumers.
As such, the French government has set out a proposal making it mandatory to mention if a filter was used or retouching applied to photo or video content that an influencer posts.
The measure will be part of a bill studied next week in France’s National Assembly.
In the weeks to come, the government will be setting up an oversight team for all forms of commercial influence within the Directorate General for Consumer Affairs, Competition and Fraud Prevention. That team will be granted power of injunction and sanctions
In a tweet Friday, Le Maire said the mention of a filter’s use or retouching of images is “to limit the destructive psychological effects of these practices on Internauts’ esteem.”
“All promotion for cosmetic surgery by an influencer as part of a paid partnership will be prohibited,” continued Le Maire.
He said the government will protect the French people.
“I want to say to the influencers who do not respect the law, from now on, we will have a zero-tolerance approach. No sidestepping or breaking the rules,” tweeted Le Maire.
His announcement comes at a time when there’s a growing outcry about the dangers of modified images online.
Most recently, people have been outspoken about TikTok’s Bold Glamour filter, which gives dramatic, digitally enhanced beauty transformations to people’s faces.
Gabrielle Union and Dove are among those cautioning that its use can set unrealistic standards of beauty and negatively impact emotional well-being.
It is not the first time the French government has sought to require the labeling of retouched photos. In 2017, in a move to combat eating disorders, it passed a law mandating photos in which models’ bodies had been altered to be labeled in advertising.
The words “photographie retouchée,” or “retouched photograph,” had to accompany such manipulated images. That specifically involved “commercial photography where models’ bodily appearance had been modified (to redefine or broaden their silhouette),” it was written in the French Republic’s official gazette, the Journal Officiel.
The mention became required for images appearing in advertising in the press, online, on posters and in catalogs.