Diet and weight-loss products have become a contentious topic of debate across social media with several body positive activists criticizing the impact it has on young women. It's almost impossible to scroll through your Instagram feed without an ad for a detox tea that claims to flatten your stomach or offer miraculous weight loss without any consequences.
Well, looks like, Instagram has been listening. Starting now, both Instagram and Facebook have introduced strict new rules that will restrict the promotion of diet related ads to those under 18.
This includes everything from detox teas and diet pills to appetite suppressants and even cosmetic procedures. The rules specifically prohibit those ads that require users to pay money for any of the services or encourage them to purchase the products or those that come with a "discount code."
Instagram claimed to have come to the decision after various discussions with "external experts," including the likes of Dr Ysabel Gerrard, a social media researcher at the University of Sheffield.
"We want Instagram 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," Emma Collins, Instagram's public policy manager told The Guardian. "We've sought guidance from external experts, including Dr. Ysabel Gerrard in the UK, to make sure any steps to restrict and remove this content will have a positive impact on our community of over 1 billion people around the world — whilst ensuring Instagram remains a platform for expression and discussion."
Actress and body positive advocate, Jameela Jamil, who has emerged as a significant voice within the discussion — petitioning to stop celebrities from promoting "toxic diet products" — was also reportedly working with Instagram to formulate the new policy.
"This is a huge win for our ongoing fight against the diet/detox industry," she said in a statement. "Facebook and Instagram taking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online sends an important message out to the world."
Congratulating the platform for being cooperative throughout the process, she added: "I'm thrilled to have been able to work towards this with them, alongside a host of other experts who shed light on the danger of these products. Instagram were supportive and helpful when I brought them my protests and petitions; they listened, they cared, they moved so efficiently, and communicated with us throughout the process."
The Good Place actress has made body positivity an integral part of her platform and even started an Instagram account, called "I Weigh," to protest what she felt was harmful online content promoting unhealthy beauty standards for women.
"As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I've personally known and suffered the perils of the devious side of the diet/detox industry," she said. "A focus of our advocacy since inception, it is a proud day for 'I Weigh' and a day of hope for our generation, who deserve respect and protection from the celebrities and influencers that they follow."
Over the past year, Instagram has made mental health a huge part of its shifting policies and even introduced a feature that allows users to track the time spent on Instagram every day. It'll be interesting to see how the new changes materialize and impact weight loss promoting companies that for too long have relied on social media advertising for their revenue.