Instagram has announced new rules today to restrict posts that involve or promote ‘miracle’ diet products and cosmetic surgery advertisements for procedures like facelifts and necklifts. The new rules, which will affect both Facebook and Instagram (which the former company now owns), will also include posts that promote detox ‘teas’, sweets, shakes and other products that are promoted as helping with quick weight loss, but are often filled with laxatives that dehydrate and damage the system.
Under these new rules, posts that explicitly promote diet products or cosmetic surgery procedures will be removed for under-18s. If the post includes a specific discount or a link to a commercial enterprise who is selling these products, then the post will also be restricted or removed from Instagram completely. Instagram currently boasts over 1bn users, many of whom are under-18, and those that have disclosed their age to the company when signing up will now be unable to see posts specifically mentioning cosmetic surgery or diet products.
Instagram have stated that, in their community guidelines, they have never allowed posts that explicitly sell diet products or cosmetic surgery but with the increasing rise and power of social media influencers using Instagram as their primary platform to promote brand deals, policing of this guideline has been scarce. Most social media stars now frequently team up with a variety of brands to promote or sell products in return for financial compensation, but when certain stars promote diet products, this can do severe damage to the mental health of more vulnerable users.
This new move by Instagram has been celebrated by body positive activists, youth workers, social media analysts and representatives from NHS England. In a study conducted by the BBC, young girls were found swapping graphic images of dramatic weight loss and giving each other tips on how to lose weight quicker. When a young girl aged just 14 took her own life after viewing these images on Instagram, widespread criticism put more pressure on the website to do something about the exploding market of influencers promoting harmful products. Instagram initially trialled a policy of removing likes from these posts, but have decided that more action needs to be taken.
Influencers including the Kardashians and rapper Cardi B have been widely criticized for promoting ‘get thin quick’ products through their highly popular Instagram pages and will all see their posts removed from the social media site within the coming months.