September 19, 2019
The internet, is wonderful, isn’t it? We can look at funny videos of cats. We can shop at any time of the day (whilst in our pyjamas). We can even order food straight to our door without speaking to a human. Oh, and we can also make quite a lot of noise and force brands to make a change.
Public pressure is nothing new, but in our modern age it’s easier than ever to start a petition, sign a petition, and make a large company do something differently. This week alone has seen two huge brands step down and make a change for the better.
Let’s start with Instagram. Since it’s conception many years ago, it’s always been about images and aesthetic. Fast forward to the age of influencers and you’ll find that you can’t go five minutes on the platform without seeing a ‘perfect’ body. The social giant is filled with celebs flogging diet products and showing off cosmetic surgery results, but now users have fought back.
Concerns about the impact of posts relating to diets, detox, and cosmetic surgeries have been raised in recent years, and as the body positivity movement continues to grow, the microscope on such posts strengthens. Accounts such as I Weigh, created by presenter and actress Jameela Jamil, have repeatedly called Instagram out for allowing advertising and promotion of products such as diet pills and detox teas.
In response to this criticism, Instagram have announced tighter restrictions on some posts relating to diet products and cosmetic surgery posts. Any posts which promote use or purchase will either be removed or hidden from users known to be under 18.
Of course, this solution is far from perfect – it isn’t difficult to pretend to be older on Instagram, and users over 18 aren’t immune to the pressures or influence of such posts, but it’s a sign of people power versus social giants.
Body image and pressure on appearance is by no means the only issue bothering the public, as awareness of sustainability and the harmful impact of plastic increases. Two children, aged nine and seven, secured over 400,000 signatures opposing McDonald’s and Burger King’s use of plastic toys in their children’s meals this week.
Whilst most of us were busy making mud pies and annoying our siblings at that age, these two sisters used an online petition platform to gather support for their cause. In response, Burger King have halted giving free toys with children’s meals and have said they plan on melting any old toys that customers bring in to create other items.
In contrast, McDonalds have said that they do not plan on removing toys from their meals but will instead give customers the option to choose between a toy and a piece of fruit.
By getting online and making some noise, the two sisters have saved a potential 320 tonnes of plastic each year.
Two different issues but one key lesson – brands who listen to customers win favour. Getting rid of plastic toys, melting old ones, hiding ads, monitoring posts – none of these things are simple for the brands involved, however their actions demonstrate recognition of issues that their customers care about, support for good causes, and a human touch that is easy to lose.
Whilst we might not all have products that will receive online petitions and public outcry, we still have customers who deserve to be heard. If we take the time to listen, we might just end up in a better place than we were before.
This week’s top social stories
Sandy Hook releases chilling back to school advert
Facebook device plugs into your TV
App that cancels subscriptions launches in UK
Facebook Announces New Portal Devices, Including TV-Connected Camera/Streaming Service
Snapchat Launches New 3D Snaps, which Display Depth as You Move Your Phone
This week the BBC released an app called ‘Own It’, a digital welling being app designed to use AI to evaluate a young person’s mood in order to offer advice and encourage them to talk to a trusted adult. Let’s hope that this much needed focus on young people’s well-being on social media continues!
The award for the loser of this week goes to an umbrella! This pesky accessory jammed the door of a WeWork office, leaving workers locked out for more than two days unable to access their work. Many people took to twitter to offer suggestions as to how to get out of this predicament with many suggesting they should cut a hole in the door. Eventually an engineer had to drill a hole in the ceiling and fish the umbrella out with a wire.
This week, to mark the release of the new Downton Abbey Film, fans were given a chance to live in the manor house where the hit tv and new film were filmed. The house went up on the Airbnb booking site with an advert that boasted royal treatment, cocktails, and a dinner waited on by the houses own butler all for £150.
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