Australian expat Peter Bray’s US agency, Bray & Co, calls on Mark Zuckerberg and the ad industry to make changes for youth mental health

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Australian expat Peter Bray's US agency, Bray & Co, calls on Mark Zuckerberg and the ad industry to make changes for youth mental health

US-based advertising agency Bray & Co., founded by Australian expat Peter Bray, launched a campaign called Dear Mark, a grassroots initiative asking the public and the advertising industry to help pressure Mark Zuckerberg to tag leaked photos on Instagram and Facebook with #filteredimage. to control the negative effects of social networks on the mental health of young people.

Elements of the campaign include the @thedearmarkproject Instagram account, a mental health podcast featuring guest health professionals, and many other assets that can be shared online.

Much has been said about the negative effect social media has on tweens and teens, from peer bullying to unrealistic lifestyle choices. Pictures of perfect-looking “influencers” take their toll when they project unrealistic beauty standards, and Dear Mark aims to remind viewers when those casual-looking photos have been given a filter help.

A 2021 survey of 200 teens and young adults ages 13 to 21 from ParentsTogether found that 61% of respondents reported that filters contributed to negative thoughts about their appearance.

The built-in filters within Instagram in particular, which can make flattering changes to lighting and color, or enhance one’s appearance by whitening teeth or removing pimples, create unrealistic expectations. Now, with more filters than ever, they can also give the illusion of perfection when performing a virtual version of cosmetic surgery and lose weight, enhance lips or change the size of the nose.

Says Peter Bray, Founder and ECD of Bray & Co: “We have advertising standards and disclaimers in all media, but we are letting young people down by not holding Meta to the same standards when it comes to imagery. Automatically tagging images that use an Instagram filter as #filteredimage is a simple change to make, and we’re asking the advertising industry to support this initiative and hold Mark Zuckerberg in particular to account.”

The success of the project will be judged by one measure: the tagging of the leaked images. So the request is that all agencies and brands support this initiative and start using #filteredimage in their own digital campaign images.

Says Andrea Evgeniou MS, LAC, therapist and founder of Positive Regard For You: “These days, social media is a hotbed of triggers. In order for us to continue enjoying the benefits of social media, we must all work together to make it a safer space that soothes our nervous system instead of activating it.”

Australian expat Peter Bray's US agency, Bray & Co, calls on Mark Zuckerberg and the ad industry to make changes for youth mental health

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