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Facebook, Instagram to Prohibit Paid 'Influencer' Promotion of Vaping, Tobacco, Guns

© REUTERS / Mark BlinchA man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015
A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The move comes as many leading social and health organizations across the world urge social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to prevent tobacco companies from using the online platforms to advertise 'harmful products' to young people.

Facebook, the owner of Instagram, announced on Wednesday that they would update policy to prevent 'influencers' from prompting potentially harmful branded content such as vaping, e-cigarettes, guns and alcohol.

“Across the Facebook company, we are updating our policies to include clearer rules for the paid promotion of certain goods and services such as vaping, tobacco, alcohol and diet supplements,” Facebook said in a press release.

According to Facebook and Instagram policy, direct advertisement of tobacco products and weapons have long been forbidden, but tobacco manufacturers have paid so-called influencers, users with large numbers of followers, to promote their products. The company said that the new advertising policies will become enforced in the coming weeks.

Over 125 international social and health organizations advocating in favor of reducing tobacco consumption, led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, earlier this year called on social media platforms to “prohibit influencer marketing of tobacco”.

“Urgent policy change is needed from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to prevent BAT [British American Tobacco] and other tobacco companies from using social media to advertise their harmful products to young people around the world,” said Mark Hurley, a representative of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
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