What You Need to Know About Instagram’s Move to Restrict Influencer Posts
Instagram has announced that effective immediately, it will begin to restrict the number of posts which are associated with cosmetic surgery procedures and with certain products related to diet or weight loss. In some cases, Instagram intends to remove these posts entirely and to disallow them from being re-posted at any time in the future. Instagram’s decision and the implementation of these new guidelines will affect its parent company, Facebook as well.
Reason for the restrictive measures
In recent months, there has been a huge increase in marketing posts by some of the most popular social media influencers, especially on Instagram. Many of these posts specifically relate to diet drinks and nutritional supplements, and some are also related to cosmetic surgery procedures. It has been found that these posts significantly increase the pressure on younger users, forcing them to become more anxious about their personal body image, or about how they should go about living their lives.
As a result, any posts which advocate specific weight loss products, or which offer bargains and lower prices on cosmetic surgery, will now be completely filtered out of the feeds for Instagram users below the age of 18. In some cases, these posts will be completely eliminated from the platform, because of their potential to interfere with the psyche of other Instagram users.
Almost any products which claim to achieve miraculous results will also be banned from the platform, according to Instagram officials, for much the same reason. Any kinds of posts which promote products that claim instant weight loss, or instant health improvement, will now be closely reviewed and likely banned from the platform entirely. In particular, a series of diet tea promotions are targeted by Instagram for removal, along with any kinds of posts which are similar.
A diet tea promotion which is advocated by influencers like the Kardashians is at the top of the list for removal from Instagram, as well as any weight loss posts which have a similar tone and promotional message. Any kinds of diet or weight loss posts directed at young users on Instagram will be carefully reviewed, and in many cases will be removed from the platform, before they have a chance to influence youngsters to look or live in a certain way.
Another measure being implemented by Instagram is providing users with a method to report any posts which abuse these guidelines, but which have not been detected by platform scanners and Instagram algorithms. Between the watchful eyes of Instagram officials and the legion of users on the lookout for abuses in posting, it is thought that most if not all, of these inflammatory posts will be identified and filtered out of users’ feeds.
A study conducted in 2017 which focused on social media users between the ages of 14 and 24 discovered that Instagram was by far the worst platform among all social media networks with regard to the mental health of young people. A 2018 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that 37% of all teenagers feel as though they are pressured to post content which will elicit a high number of comments and/or Likes. This is one reason why Instagram began testing feeds without the Like counts being shown. This latest measure by Instagram is considered to be another step toward reducing social media pressure on its youngest users.
A number of experts have weighed in on the anticipated results of Instagram’s new policy, including Dr. Ysabel Gerrard, who lectures on digital media and society, and who is based at the University of Sheffield. In Dr. Gerrard’s opinion, one of the main things Instagram’s new policy will accomplish will be to contribute to a culture shift which runs counter to the current self-image promotions so prevalent in society. Her feeling is that young women have been relentlessly targeted with products which can change their lives and improve their appearance, with almost miraculous results being achievable.
Dr. Gerrard feels that any kind of miraculous claims simply cannot be sustained, and are only short-term solutions at best. Because so many of these diet and weight loss promotions have been appearing on social media, there has been an increase in eating disorders and a general lowering of self-image among young people. Dr. Gerrard sees the new Instagram policy as a step in the right direction, and a very positive influence in terms of reversing the harm done over the last several years.
What Instagram is saying
According to Instagram’s Public Policy Manager, Emma Collins, it’s simply not in the interest of society in general to be exposed to any kind of branded miracle claims, and that’s why they will be restricted or removed from the platform. Ms. Collins states that the platform will go a step further with young people in ensuring that no branded promotion of dietary products, weight loss products, or cosmetic procedures will be allowed to enter the feeds of users under the age of 18.
Of course, users can get around this policy by claiming a more advanced age when they set up their accounts, but this is not thought to occur on a widespread basis, so the general impact of the policy will remain intact. Ms. Collins also states that the platform had reached out to experts in certain fields before implementing these new policy changes, so that they could be sure the restrictions would have the intended results, rather than any kind of negative feedback.
It’s a fine line to walk, because Instagram is determined to retain its reputation as a platform for discussion and expression, while at the same time it doesn’t want its young users to be harmed by a flood of self-image promotions and offers. It may be in the future that Instagram is obliged to fine-tune its policy changes, or to add on more of them, but for the time being, it appears that this policy change is a positive one which should only help young users on the platform retain a positive self-image.
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