How Instagram’s New Ad Restrictions Might Affect Your Business
Instagram has announced that it has already imposed limitations on ads which are related to cosmetic surgery or to dietary content. The announcement made it clear that platform executives have been in consultation with experts on well-being and mental health, and that it has been decided that it’s in the best interest of platform users that these restrictions be implemented as soon as possible.
Specifically, the restrictions will apply to Instagram users below the age of 18, and the advertisements themselves will be those associated with any type of cosmetic procedure or weight loss product. Those ads which include pricing information or offer some incentive to make a purchase will be especially targeted, and will be blocked from presentation to the younger age groups.
Rationale for the restrictions
A number of groups and individuals have voiced serious concern over the impact that advertising of this nature has been having on young people, who are considered to be much more impressionable, and much more likely to be swayed by the advertising content. Instagram is determined to make its platform a positive environment for all who care to use it, and is therefore committed to ensuring that pressure on young people which can result from social media usage is minimized or eliminated on Instagram.
This is the latest step taken by Instagram to minimize or eliminate the potential for self-harm for its users. In February 2019, the platform completely eliminated all graphic imagery of self-harm, deeming that the material was inappropriate for its users, and that it did not want to be responsible for any kind of copycat activity. Also this year, Instagram has been extensively testing the removal of Like counts on its posts in some areas of the world. This was also thought to be having a harmful effect on users who felt inadequate, because their Like counts could not match the total count of some of the more successful posters.
Removal of Like counts
As of July 2019, Instagram was fully involved with tests which completely removed total Like counts from its platform in several regions of the globe. Those places included Japan, Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Brazil, and Australia, and testing was later expanded to include several more regions. Instagram was very serious about this testing, even though the Like counts were a popular feature for a great many users. A big part of the reason for the removal of Like counts is that Instagram had recently been identified as the worst of social media platforms in terms of the mental health and well-being of its users.
It was thought that especially younger users had become so enamored of the Like counts that they felt depressed whenever they failed to achieve high totals which could match those of some of the more prolific users on the platform. This in turn, led to a reduction of self-image for many users and a corresponding reduction of their state of well-being, as well as their mental health. Obviously, Instagram does not want to be identified as the main culprit among social media platforms for imparting mental health issues to its users. After consultation among Instagram executives, it was decided that steps were necessary to reverse that poor image, and to regain a more healthful and appropriate status for the platform and its users.
Instagram also felt it was important to remove all images depicting self-harm, especially those related to cutting, or of scars which had healed. Needless to say, any images involving suicide or other serious attempts at self-harm would also fall into the category of images which would be banned. Even the depiction of healed scars would be banned for the most part, if it was felt that the healed scars resulted from self-cutting, which is something the platform cannot condone.
Instagram is well aware of the fact that as a visual-based platform, images are crucial to its popularity, so inappropriate visuals would have to be tightly controlled so as not to bring lasting damage to the platform. Along with measures which removed these type of images, Instagram also initiated a program where they would provide resources to people who are searching for images depicting self-harm, and who were posting content of that nature.
The platform also went a step beyond, and directed these users to organizations which could provide assistance for them, and help them with any kind of mental issues they were going through. At the time that the self-harm images were removed, Instagram also embarked on a regular program of consultation with health and wellness experts, so as to determine any additional steps which the platform might take in that regard. Those consultations led directly to the current restrictions on dietary and cosmetic surgery advertising.
The restrictions on dietary ads and cosmetic surgery ads are not the only ones that will be included in the category for removal from the platform. Instagram has also announced that any kind of advertising which claims to provide a miracle cure, or some kind of miraculous weight loss capability will also be banned from display on the platform. These type of ads are deemed to be too appealing to impressionable youngsters who may have a self-image problem, and are lured into the idea of quick weight loss.
In recent months and years, a number of lifestyle gurus have emerged to promote just these kinds of miracle cures which can supposedly bring about profound immediate impact on a person’s life. While there may be a small positive influence exerted by products which are at least somewhat legitimate, Instagram executives consider that the overall influence will be resoundingly negative, and must therefore be curtailed.
As mentioned before, this latest move by Instagram is the most recent in its attempt to reverse its image as the platform which is most harmful to young people’s health and well-being. Given the fact that company executives seem firmly committed to this reversal, we can all expect more such measures to be taken in the future, and that is probably a very good thing.