Online fashion retailers twice as likely to use “racy” images

Online fashion retailers twice as likely than traditional high street stores to use “racy” images on their websites.

Ecommerce retailers like Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Missguided are more likely to use images which Google’s AI image search classifies as “racy”, according to a new report by the BBC.

Google classifies images as “racy” if they feature skimpy clothing, provocative poses or strategically covered nudity.

On average eight per cent of marketing images used by high street retailers like Topshop and River Island were classified as racy, while online-based fashion retailers averaged 16 per cent.

Missguided and Boohoo, both of which just had adverts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for being “overly-sexualised” and “socially irresponsible”, each averaged 16 per cent.

PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, both owned by Boohoo, came in at 22 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, while Asos and was found to use just seven per cent.

READ MORE: Missguided and Boohoo ads banned for being “socially irresponsible” and “overly-sexualised”

In contrast high street stores New Look, TopShop and River Island came in at four, nine and seven per cent, although Urban Outfitters was found to use 25 per cent racy images on its website.

Of these companies which also had men’s sites, just two per cent of the images used were classified as racy.

In response, Missguided said that its website is targeted at “sassy, empowered” women, “not an artificial intelligence algorithm”.

Despite the brands coming under fire from the ASA, students interviewed by the BBC had a more positive opinion of the images, arguing that they often use models with different body shapes which empowers young girls to “feel sexy, whatever your body type”.

Google’s algorithm is part of its “Safe Search” tool, which gives images a rating of one to five in terms of how likely they are to be “racy”.

The BBC analysed 18,000 images from the “new in” sections of 10 fashion sites.

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