Google says beauty filters bad for mental health, Pixel phones won’t use them by default

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Modern-day smartphones come with a lot of enhancements to improve photography experience, with many of them offering beauty filters and other such features to smoothen out skin details in pictures. However, there has always been debate over the use of such methods, with few studies showing that these filters can have a negative effect on mental health.

It appears Google has also been keeping eye on such reports, with the company now announcing that it will be distancing its phones from such features. Google has said that it will be turning them off by default on its own phones and encouraging other OEMs to do the same.

In a blog post, it said, “We set out to better understand the effect filtered selfies might have on people’s wellbeing… especially when filters are on by default. We conducted multiple studies and spoke with the child and mental health experts from around the world, and found that when you’re not aware that a camera or photo app has applied a filter, the photos can negatively impact mental wellbeing. These default filters can quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against.”

Google has even gone ahead and created documentation for best practices when implementing face filters, in which it also recommends that they be switched off by default. As per the company, OEMs and camera app developers should resist the temptation of using terms like “enhancement,” “beautification,” and “touch up,” as they propagate negative body image.

Interestingly, while it waits for others to adopt such best practices, it has also said that it will be following its own advice, as Pixel phones will soon have face retouching off by default. While this option will be available, it will be behind an extra step, thereby making it more difficult for users to reach.

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