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Instagram star sees 'a shift' in how social media is curbing abusive behavior

Sarah Smith
Segment Producer/Booker

In the middle of a fierce debate about digital privacy and online bullying, Instagram star Iskra Lawrence is well versed in the benefits and pitfalls of social media.

The 28-year-old British model is an influencer, with over 4.4 million followers on Instagram. As a result of her wide following and public exposure, Lawrence has seen the good and the bad from social media users.

“I used to get trolled a lot,”Lawrence said in a recent talk with Yahoo Finance. Now, with social media getting tough on online abuse, “...I’ve definitely noticed a shift.”

It’s a potentially encouraging sign that tech giants are getting more serious about privacy and online safety.

Abusive remarks are a staple on certain platforms, but she said that nowadays, “I see a lot less of them coming through” as social media giants move to curtail hate speech and remove some of the worst offenders.

Over the last year, “I’ve really seen a positive change from Instagram and its platform.”

Promoting Body Positivity

Within the mainstream media, equal representation among women of all shapes and sizes has become a growing movement. The most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue featured Heather McGrady, considered by some to be the “curviest model ever.

For her part, Lawrence is a big advocate of “size inclusivity within the industry,” and uses her social media presence to promote things she’s passionate about. She said her visibility is a privilege, and thinks other influencers should advocate for causes close to them.

Lawrence told Yahoo Finance that she enjoys “talking about the impact all of us have when we put out an image, and the impact it can have on people’s self-esteem and self worth.”

Another hot topic is the promotion of diet products on social media. Last year, reality TV star Kim Kardashian was widely criticized for using her feed to promote appetite-suppressing lollipops.

“I’m someone who’s personally struggled with an eating disorder,” Lawrence told YFi PM, and has gotten criticism about her size.

When asked about whose responsibility it is to regulate “triggering” posts that promote products that may be harmful to users, Lawrence suggested regulation could fall on the FDA to “step in and put some kind of warning or precaution on these types of products.”

An Influencer using her Influence

The model is also an ambassador of The Price’s Trust, a charity in the U.K. aiming to help young people in need. She’s also a global role model for Aerie, an intimate apparel sub-brand owned by American Eagle Outfitters (AEO).

Recently, she collaborating with L’Oreal Paris and Prince’s Trust to create a signature, limited edition lipstick called “My Perfect Nude,” but she won’t be making anything from sales.

Instead, a portion of the profits will go to supporting one of The Prince’s Trust’s programs.

“If I can do a brand collaboration, I’m going to make sure it gives back,” she said.