Lollipops, pills or tea? Instagram finally kicks back against the promotion of diet supplements

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Earlier this year, reality star and influencer Kim Kardashian hit a wall of criticism as her weight loss lollipops were branded as ‘toxic’ and accused of discouraging body positivity on Twitter.

Despite significant body positivity movements, almost every Instagram user, male or female, will have seen similar posts to those of Kim Kardashian from multiple influencers and celebrities across social media. Consistently  ‘detox teas’ and ‘miracle weight loss pills’ are being promoted with the promise of total body confidence after. Finally, Instagram has responded to such criticism by banning these ads for users 18 and under, while also banning content that makes unsupported claims on weight loss products and the promotion of them through discount codes. However, where does the responsibility of these products really lie?

“The action taken by Instagram seems to imply that both parties have a role to play, while acknowledging their own responsibility also.”

Debate has arisen across social media questioning whether it is the companies or the influencers that should be held responsible for the selling of, and promotion of such products. The action taken by Instagram seems to imply that both parties have a role to play, while acknowledging their own responsibility also.

Personally, I would argue that it is the influencers who hold the real power and responsibility in carrying such a large following. Even with the inevitable existence of these products, it is ultimately the exposure created from the influencer and their platform that is so damaging when considering products such as these; their lifestyle often being a strong selling point. Jameela Jamil for example, who herself hit out at the Kardashian for promoting such products, highlights the impact of the influencers’ choice to promote such products on users’ mental health, leading the ‘iweigh’ campaign and emphasising the impact that social media can have on body image. 

The introduction of this new law from Instagram shows that social media platforms are finally starting to acknowledge their responsibility to protect their users, acknowledging that there are toxic practices taking place and making clear that these practices and products are not welcome on their platforms. However, the significant influence that celebrities and influencers have on the actions and lives of their followers reminds us that the responsibility of eradicating these toxic practises does not end with the actions of Instagram alone, but with the education and actions of the influencers also.

Last modified: 27th October 2019

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