Facebook and Instagram will no longer allow influencers to promote vape products, tobacco products or guns on their platforms under “branded content.”
The announcement closes a loophole in Facebook’s advertising policies, which doesn’t allow brands to purchase advertisements for vapes, tobacco and guns, but paid promotions by influencers were still allowed, meaning the company could just pay someone to do the advertising for them. The change comes as more states, such as Oregon, are beginning to crack down on e-cigarettes and flavored vapes due to health concerns and lung illnesses. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority recently banned Instagram posts involving people under 25 years old who are promoting vaping.
“We do not allow adverts that promote the sale or use of tobacco or electronic cigarettes. Earlier this year we updated our policy to restrict organic content that depicts the sale or purchase of tobacco products to over 18s. We are currently updating our branded content policies to no longer allow paid promotions of these products too,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook said the enforcement of the new rule would begin “in the coming weeks.” This is also the first time Instagram is implementing restrictions around what content can be promoted for branded content. The company also said branded content that promotes alcohol and diet supplements will also require special restrictions once the new policies go into effect. Facebook is working on tools that will help influencers follow the new guidelines, such as the ability to restrict which users can see content based on age.
“I’m grateful to Facebook and Instagram for taking this common-sense step to encourage safety on its platforms, and I am hopeful that this step in the right direction is a sign of more meaningful policies to come,” said Shannon Watts, founder of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.