(Reuters) – Social media influencers will be banned from promoting vaping, tobacco products and weapons on Instagram as the Facebook-owned platform doubles down on its existing ban on companies advertising these products.
Product endorsements are rampant on Instagram as celebrities and others with large followings, or so-called “influencers”, on the social network have struck deals to talk up clothing, food and other items.
Even though Facebook and Instagram have banned ads for tobacco products, e-cigarette makers have been using influencers to promote their products through hashtags or posts showing they were gifted the devices by companies.
“Branded content that promotes goods such as vaping, tobacco products and weapons will not be allowed,” Instagram said in a post on Wednesday.
“Our advertising policies have long prohibited the advertisement of these products, and we will begin enforcement on this in the coming weeks.”
According to CNBC here this would be the first time the platform is implementing restrictions around the type of items that can be promoted for branded content.
The new guidelines come after Instagram made changes in June to its policies allowing brands to turn an influencer’s post into a sponsored content ad that would appear on their feeds with a “paid partnership with” tag.
The move comes on the same day the British Advertising Standards Authority banned tobacco companies from promoting e-cigarettes on social media sites, following an investigation into their Instagram posts.
“It is imperative that Facebook and Instagram not only swiftly enact these policy changes, but also see that they are strictly enforced,” said Matthew Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Tobacco companies have spent decades targeting kids – social media companies must not be complicit in this strategy,” he said.
Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty