Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) introduced Wednesday a policy that prohibits influencers from promoting vaping, tobacco and weapons on Instagram. It also announced restrictions on branded content for alcohol and diet supplements.
“Our advertising policies have long prohibited the advertisement of these products, and we will begin enforcement on this in the coming weeks,” the company said in a blog post.
E-cigarette manufacturers had been using influencers to get around bans on vaping ads. As influencer marketing continues to explode, the platform has determined to “establish clear rules to help protect our community.” The vaping ban is Instagram’s first restriction on branded content.
In conjunction with the ban, the company announced an extension of Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager to Instagram influencers. This product enables users to share metrics with and recruit like-minded brands for paid promotional content.
The new Instagram restrictions will take effect in the next few weeks.
Why It’s Important
Instagram’s action resonates with the spirit of the age. Earlier this week, the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Agency banned four vaping companies, including British American Tobacco PLC (NYSE: BTI), from marketing e-cigarettes through influencers. Anti-smoking groups have been pressuring the industry and regulators to intervene in the practice.
"While the ASA ruling is great news, urgent policy change is needed from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to prevent BAT and other tobacco companies from using social media to advertise their harmful products to young people around the world," the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement.
Instagram said its internal policy is unrelated to the public movement.