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Instagram bans influencers from endorsing vaping and tobacco products

Instagram bans influencers from endorsing vaping and tobacco products
Highlights

Social media influencers will not be entertained to promote tobacco products, vaping, and weapons on Instagram.

Social media influencers will not be entertained to promote tobacco products, vaping, and weapons on Instagram. The Facebook-owned platform has doubled its existing ad policies banning the promotion of such products.

Product endorsement is common on Instagram; celebrities and people with a large number of followers are called "influencers". Tobacco companies have used stars like British singer Lily Allen and Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek in posts to promote e-cigarettes.

But an ongoing teenage vaping epidemic in the US and recent deaths are linked to vaping, which has brought additional examination on the devices and the way they are being promoted.

Facebook and Instagram have already banned regular ads for tobacco products that come from brand accounts directly, and companies could turn an influencer's post on Instagram into a sponsored content ad.

"Branded content that promotes goods such as vaping, tobacco products and weapons will not be allowed," Instagram said in a post on Wednesday, adding that it would begin enforcement "in the coming weeks."

The updated guidelines come on the same day the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned tobacco companies from promoting e-cigarettes on social media sites, following an investigation into their Instagram posts.

An Instagram spokeswoman told Reuters that the decision is unrelated to ASA's move.

Instagram said this is for the first time it is implementing restrictions around the type of items that can be endorsed for branded content.

"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.

In addition to the ban, Instagram has also announced a few new features for the business profile users. Instagram says that creators will "now be able to share insights and engagement with brands and find partners that will resonate with their audience. Creators in Brand Collabs Manager can also search for like-minded brands looking to partner on content creation. They can source new deals, manage partnerships, and automatically share insights with them (before this, many creators could only send brands screenshots of their analytics)."

With inputs from Reuters

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