After consulting with various experts on mental health and wellbeing, Instagram has announced that it will implement new restrictions on posts related to diet products and cosmetic surgery.
"Instagram will be restricting posts for users under 18 years old that promote the use of certain weight loss products or cosmetic procedures, and that have an incentive to buy or includes a price."
Various groups have raised concerns about the impact of such advertising, particularly on younger, more impressionable users. For Instagram's part, it says that it wants its platform "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."
This comes in the wake of Instagram also testing the removal of total Like counts on posts in some regions, and removing graphic images of self-harm, a decision it announced back in February. In combination, these efforts seek to reduce the harmful impacts of social media, and the pressure it can place on users.
Such efforts are especially important on Instagram, a platform based on visual presentation. Indeed, Instagram, according to some reports, is the worst social network for such impacts. A study conducted by The Royal Society for Public Health in the UK in 2017 showed that Instagram usage had the biggest potential impact in relation to higher levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and “fear of missing out.”
In addition to the new restriction on diet and cosmetic surgery ads, Instagram has also said that any content which makes a “miraculous” claim about a diet or weight-loss product will now also be removed from the platform.
The changes could be a blow to the burgeoning culture of lifestyle gurus and influencers who spruik various diet drinks and options. But the potential negatives are outweighed by the positives, by a significant margin.
It's a good move by Instagram, and will hopefully help lead the way forward for other platforms in future.
The new policies will be implemented from this week.