Texas Attorney General Bans Some Instagram Filters
Earlier this week, Instagram users in Texas were probably a little confused when some of their app became unavailable. On May 11th, 2022 the company Meta removed the use of filters on their Instagram app inside the state of Texas.
First of all, if you're not familiar with what a "filter" is on a social media app, it's really pretty simple. A filter is an overlay for a picture or video used on the app. These overlays could enhance, deteriorate, or adjust the image under it. Some add color changes, some can add small photos over the top of the original.
So why is something so simple and common getting banned in Texas?
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against Meta (the company that owns Instagram, and Facebook) stating that they are breaking Texas law with the filters. Paxton says Instagram is violating the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act. Sounds big a technical, but it's actually pretty simple.
Any filter that uses "augmented reality" uses biometric identifiers to make the background work. When "augmented reality" is used, the camera has to anchor to points on the face to track it and manipulate the images and videos, but linking to those facial points also create an identification profile. This facial recognition profile can be used for further tracking by a company.
A similar law was passed in Illinois, and a lawsuit was brought against Meta in that state. The Illinois lawsuit was settled earlier this year, and as a part of that settlement the filters were taken down in Illinois. Even though the Texas lawsuit hasn't been judged or settled, the company is taking the filters down in Texas based on the results in Illinois.
So at this point, it looks like those filters are gone in Texas, and they probably aren't coming back. That means Texas residents will have to jump over the border to Louisiana if they want to use them.