Facebook today revealed its putting the kibosh on branded content from its influencers — specifically, those posts which promote guns, vaping, and tobacco products. This is the first time Instagram’s ever tried to restrict what its content creators can be paid to promote.
The platform already bans outright advertisements for vaping, guns, and tobacco on both Facebook and Instagram. That said, there’s always been some flexibility for influencers who are paid to promote the products on the platform. If a content creator makes a sponsored post promoting an item, that’s generally not frowned upon by the platform, no matter how bad it is or if it’s banned from being advertised. In fact, in its announcement of the new rules, Instagram’s business team notes that “Our advertising policies have long prohibited the advertisement of these products,” but it’s only enforcing them now.
The announcement also says this is part of a larger push to help its content creators interact with their business partners. These changes include updates to the Brand Collab Manager, a Facebook tool which is now available for a select group of Instagrammers. As Instagram is now hiding like numbers on posts, this tool could, in theory, be a way for influencers to share the impact of their sponsored posts with their brand partners. Given that content creators often have to worry about scammers stealing their accounts via phony analytics sites. Real brand deals often rely on such data, so often users don’t question being asked to log into these sites by people claiming to offer them such deals. An actual, in-app tool for tracking that data would hopefully cut down on users who fall for such schemes.
As for the restrictions on what can be advertised, it’d be interesting to see what else the platform bans over time. Instagram has had to curtail a flood of sponsored posts for weight loss products and cosmetic surgery, as such ads aren’t doing much for the mental health of its youthful audience. Earlier this year, it restricted the visibility of these posts so that they won’t be visible to users under the age of 18, and any post that makes a claim about a product’s “miraculous” qualities or offers a discount code will be removed.
According to the announcement, sponsored posts for alcohol or diet supplements “will require special restrictions” but it’s not exactly clear what those restrictions are. Instagram says it’ll begin enforcing these new policies in the coming weeks.