As Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg heads up Capitol Hill today to pitch his vision for internet regulation and appease lawmakers who are weighing tougher moves, his company's Instagram platform is being more filtered with the dangers of weightless products being promoted and sold through its platform.
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The popular social media app will now restrict minors under the age of 18 from viewing posts that promote and incentivize buying detox teas, diet pills, appetite suppressants and other health supplements with unhealthy weight-loss claims. And physicians say it's about time as many of the diet teas advertised contain the active compound Seena glycoside, a laxative, and doctors warn its problematic when used in weight-loss products.
"It may lead to dehydration and loss of vital electrolytes in the body essential for optimal function of your heart and nervous system," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency care physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told FOX Business adding: "A detox is not part of a healthy lifestyle. I applaud any efforts on social media platforms to restrict such advertising regarding detox teas or other weight loss products to minors."
Meanwhile, Instagram says it is looking out for its users.
“It’s not in the interest of the broader community to be exposed to these kind of branded miracle claims,” Instagram Public Policy Manager Emma Collins told the Evening Standard, adding that the company will also restrict users under 18 from seeing promotional posts about cosmetic procedures.
Instagram’s crack down comes amid the recent growth of influencers – people with thousands of followers who often get paid by brands to hawk their products – and celebrities advertising goods with miracle weight loss claims.
Stars like Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Cardi B have faced backlash for promoting detox products like FitTea and diet lollipops that can be potentially harmful to young people.
Teas that advertise themselves as “detox” products are typically not measured for safety or tested the way medication would be because they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Still, they continue to sell. American consumers have spent more than $62 million on detox products such as weight-loss teas in 2018, according to Chicago-based market research firm, SPINS reported by The Washington Post. What’s more, women are more likely to use diet and weight loss products compared to men.
Now, Instagram content reviewers will be able to report a post if they feel it violates the new policy. And influencers will no longer be able to make miracle weight-loss claims and link to a discount code to get followers to buy it.