Instagram bans influencers from getting paid to promote vaping and guns

Key Points
  • For the first time, Facebook and Instagram are putting restrictions around the types of items that brands can promote using "branded content."
  • The "branded content" feature lets brands promote influencer posts, which widen reach of those posts beyond just an influencer's own following.
  • Branded content that promotes vaping, tobacco products and weapons will no longer be allowed.
A person smokes a Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette in this arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Altria Group's plan to take a $12.8 billion stake in Juul Labs could be destroying value, Citigroup analysts write in a note downgrading the stock to a sell from neutral.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Facebook and Instagram will no longer allow influencers to promote vaping, tobacco products or weapons on its platforms using "branded content."

Instagram announced Wednesday it would no longer allow "branded content" that promotes those goods on either platform. In June, Instagram a change that would let advertisers promote posts from influencers, or users who work with brands to promote services or products. Users see a "paid partnership with" tag on a post when viewing that branded content on Instagram.

This change closes a loophole in Facebook's advertising policies. Even though Facebook's ad policies have banned the advertising of vaping, tobacco and weapons, private users can post about them, and until now advertisers could theoretically put paid promotion behind those posts.

The company said it would begin enforcement of the new rule "in the coming weeks." An Instagram spokesperson said this is the first time it's implementing restrictions around the type of items that can be promoted for branded content.

The company also said branded content that promotes goods such as alcohol or diet supplements will require "special restrictions" once new policies go into effect next year. According to Facebook, the company is building tools to help content creators comply with new policies, like the ability to restrict which users can see their content based on age.

Instagram also outlined other changes in its announcement. The company is testing Facebook's "Brand Collabs Manager" starting with 40 Instagram content creators in the U.S. The company said as "part of its continued test of private like counts" it is working to give professional accounts ability to share engagement metrics including likes with business partners using new settings in the app.

Zyper CEO Amber Atherton on the new $4.1 billion influencer economy
Zyper CEO Amber Atherton on the new $4.1 billion influencer economy