As criticism grows over pro-diet content on TikTok, the platform is placing new restrictions on weight-loss advertisements. The latest policy bans ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements and creates restrictions on other weight loss-related ads.
Only users aged 18 and over will be able to see ads for “weight management products.” Those shown will also not be allowed to “promote a negative body image or negative relationship with food.”
“These types of ads do not support the positive, inclusive, and safe experience we strive for on TikTok,” Tara Wadhwa, TikTok’s safety policy manager, wrote in a blog post. TikTok is also partnering with the National Eating Disorder Association and will redirect searches and hashtags for terms it labels unsafe to the association’s helpline.
TikTok has been accused of hosting content that many say glamorizes eating disorders and promotes dangerous diet practices. Some videos offer tips on how to curb hunger (sleeping, eating ice chips) while others provide misinformation on proper nutrition and fitness.
Earlier this year, TikTok users promoted the misuse of Rae’s “Metabolism Drops” in a viral challenge. The trend, often tagged as #weightlosschallenge, encouraged users to increase the recommended dosage to lose weight more quickly.
However, TikTok isn’t the only social media platform that has cracked down on weight loss-related ads to help users.
Social Media and Diet Promotions
Last year, Instagram announced their plan to limit diet and cosmetic procedure ads.
Users aged under 18 will no longer be able to view posts promoting weight loss products or cosmetic surgery. Instagram will also place an age restriction on posts that include an incentive to buy a promoted product or a listed price. Likewise, posts will be deleted if they make “a miraculous claim about certain diet or weight loss products, and is linked to a commercial offer such as a discount code,” the company stated in a press release.
“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,” stated Emma Collins, Instagram’s public policy manager.
Instagram is asking users to report content that violates the new policy as they come across it. Once reported, the platform will investigate and rule whether or not the posts need to be restricted or removed entirely.
The changes will be applied to both Instagram and Facebook, the owner of Instagram. There’s still plenty of work to be done, however. Younger users can still register accounts with an older age, making the posts just as accessible as before.