Instagram is finally making rules to govern content in influencer advertising.
Influencers, the app’s most-followed users who are paid by brands to post, will no longer be allowed to promote products related to vaping, tobacco and weapons, Instagram said Wednesday in a blog post.
Instagram, the photo app owned by Facebook, has long allowed people with thousands or even millions of followers to operate their own sponsored content operations, outside the Facebook ad-buying system, without the level of oversight applied to the rest of the company’s advertising. For years, the company felt that if an influencer had cultivated an audience willing to hear their messages, Facebook shouldn’t get in the way.
However, there’s been a surge of sponsored content promoted by influencers, so Instagram wants to “establish clear rules to help protect our community,” at least with vaping, weapons and tobacco, according to a spokeswoman. Facebook already has rules against such products in its official advertising programs.
Instagram reaches a younger demographic, which may be more easily swayed by ads from the famous users of the platform. Starting next year, Instagram, which recently started requiring new users to disclose their birth date, will restrict the audience for influencer ads about alcohol and diet supplements.
A few years ago, after pressure from the Federal Trade Commission on advertising disclosures, Instagram started to require influencers to use a specific branded content tool to disclose the money behind their posts. Influencers regularly flout that rule with little consequence, and sometimes don’t even disclose if they are paid to post about a product.