Instagram has taken a stand against the mounting physical and mental health problems among young people concerned about their body image. The social media platform announced on Wednesday that is introducing a new policy regarding content promoting cosmetic surgery procedures and diet products.
The rules, which will also apply to Facebook, will see posts that contain “an incentive to buy or includes a price” restricted for people under the age of 18. Instagram will also remove content if it “makes a miraculous claim about certain diet or weight loss products, and is linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code.” Over the coming weeks, the company will also introduce new functionality, allowing users to report posts that violate the new guidelines.
“We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media,” Instagram’s public policy manager, Emma Collins, said in a statement emailed to several news sources.
“We’ve sought guidance from external experts, including Dr Ysabel Gerrard in the UK, to make sure any steps to restrict and remove this content will have a positive impact on our community of over one billion people around the world – whilst ensuring Instagram remains a platform for expression and discussion,” she added.
British actress Jameela Jamil also consulted with Instagram on the new policy. A founder of the “I Weigh” campaign on Instagram, Jamil is a prominent advocate for stricter content regulations regarding body image. She has previously slammed a number of celebrities, including Khloé and Kim Kardashian, Cardi B, Perez Hilton, and Iggy Azalea, for their promotion of diet teas, supplements, and cosmetic surgeries.
“After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us,” Jamil said in an Instagram post on Wednesday. “This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible.”
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THIS IS HUGE NEWS. @i_weigh are changing the world together. After a bunch of shouting, screaming, and petitioning… we have managed to get the attention of the people at the top, and they have heard us and want to protect us. And this is just the beginning of our efforts. As of now, if you’re under 18, you will no longer be exposed to any diet/detox products, and for all other ages; all fad products that have bogus, unrealistic claims will be taken down and easy to report. I’ve been working with Instagram all year towards this, who were amazing to deal with, and they expressed that they passionately care about creating a safer space for us all online. This happened so much faster than I expected and I’m so proud and happy and relieved. WELL DONE to the many people who have been working towards this huge change. This is a mass effort. This is an extraordinary win that is going to make a big difference. Influencers have to be more responsible. ❤️
Social media has long been tied to mental health problems, especially among adolescents and young adults. In an effort to address such concerns, last year Instagram introduced a set of tools allowing users to track the time they spent on the app and thus limit potential obsession. To “remove pressure” on users, the company has also recently begun testing the removal of “like” counts in several countries, including Australia and Japan.