Cleo social media hate heightened by 'farcical' forum

By By Amy Kellow | 4 September 2012

Despite Cleo magazine's attempts to settle the social media war regarding its Photoshopping policy, consumers have attacked its recent online forum calling it a "farce" and a "PR exercise".

The forum, held yesterday on the Cleo website from 1-2pm, aimed to give readers the chance to discuss its Photoshopping policy with the magazine.

It followed an onslaught of scathing Facebook comments over its use of digitally altered images, as a result of a Change.org petition started by 20 year old Melbourne student Jessica Barlow some weeks prior.

Consumers flocked to Cleo's Facebook page post forum, deploring its practicality and the magazine's engagement with readers.

One user wrote: "Cleo, your forum today was a FARCE! Your technology made a highschool network look sophisticated and your cut and paste response was the joke of Facebook. What the story? You want to LOOK good but you dont want to put the effort in?".

Another said: "I can't see replies to any questions, including my own and your website has now crashed. I'd suggest you simply read the hundreds of comments here on Fb if you are actually really interested in feedback. Or maybe just read the petition that 15,000 people have signed."

Another wrote: "Geez Cleo it is hardly a 'discussion' when you are replying to peoples comments now [when] we can no longer reply! Pffft That was just a PR exercise and an attempt to blow us off. Grrr."

One user argued the lunchtime hosting of the forum was impractical given most consumers would be working and unable to participate. "In order to take part we had to provide personal information beyond what should have been required to take part. Very cynical exercise indeed", she added.

Cleo replied to the complaints with: "We held the forum during lunchtime when most people are free during working hours. We also explained that people could post as Anonymous, but asked that they added their name at the end of their Anonymous comment so we could reply personally."

Jessica Barlow started her petition last month in a bid to stop Cleo using Photoshopped images of models, arguing they promoted "unrealistic ideals" for young women and were a potential cause of eating disorders, body image issues and depression.

The magazine sent its Photoshopping guidelines to Barlow shortly after the petition started, and said it was unable to comply with her requests as several images came already Photoshopped from international picture agencies.

It has since posted a link to its Photoshopping policy on its Facebook page, along with a number of statements reminding readers it features "real girls" in every issue.

Cleo was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

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