Instagram will be introducing new policies which will ban certain diet or weight loss claims and products. The changes are being positioned as a way to tackle “diet tea culture” on the platform but the vague language of the policies means that they could be used to restrict posts about any commercial diet products in the future.
As part of this new policy rollout, Instagram will also be restricting any branded promotion of weight loss products or the undertaking of cosmetic procedures to users aged 18 and over. In a statement, Instagram’s Public Policy Manager Emma Collins suggested that the platform wanted to roll out these restrictions to all users but decided not to because of Instagram’s transgender community:
“There’s a really thriving community of trans activists who use Instagram to talk about transition and that inevitably veers on to talking about cosmetic procedures and we didn’t want to inadvertently shut any of that down.”
Instagram didn’t specify when these new policies will go into effect but said that additional reporting functionality will be rolled out over the next few weeks which will allow users to report posts that supposedly violate these new rules.
For now, Instagram has said that diet teas will be impacted by these new policies but provided little information on what constitutes a “miraculous” diet claim or which other diet or weight loss products will be affected by these rules:
“The policy means that posts promoting products such as diet teas with a caption like ‘this helped me to lose 10 pounds really fast’ with a discount code to purchase will be removed.”
The lack of clarity around how other branded diet products will be impacted by these new policies means that any health and fitness influencers that promote diet courses or products could potentially fall foul of these rules.
Proponents of popular diets such as Paleo, vegan, juicing, low carb, and intermittent fasting often share how these diets have helped to raise their energy levels, reduce or eliminate the symptoms of various diseases, and produced other health benefits. Under Instagram’s new rules, using these descriptors while promoting diet plans, recipe books, supplements, or any other products related to dieting could be banned.
The introduction of these new Instagram policies follows a series of other changes that have made it increasingly difficult for health and fitness influencers to build their businesses online.
Last month, a Google algorithm change slashed the traffic to many popular health and fitness websites with health research site Examine.com reporting that it lost 90% of its traffic as a result of this change. And in July, charging for diet advice without a license was ruled illegal in some US states – a ruling that raised questions for coaches and influencers that sell diet or health information online.