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Instagram will now characterize weight loss ads as ‘sensitive content’

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Social media platform Instagram have added an additional feature which will allow users to block ads for weight loss from appearing on their news feeds. Users will be able to access this filter on their explore page, by selecting the topic “body weight control,” and then blocking it.

“In addition to Explore, you’ll now be able to control the amount of sensitive content and accounts you see in Search, Reels, accounts you can follow, Hashtag Pages and in-feed recommendations,” the company wrote in its statement.

TikTok took a similar stance in 2020 when they banned any videos that promoted “negative body image.” Katie Budenberg, who is a body neutral influencer, also started a petition which would allow users to be shielded from such content. The petition received 30,130 signatures.

“It’s no secret that the aim of a weight-loss ad is to make you feel inadequate in your body so that you are persuaded to pay the company large amounts of money to help you lose weight. To some, these ads may be harmless and they can scroll on but for some these ads are triggering and dangerous,” Budenberg said.

“This is why we are asking that Instagram adds the option to not see weight-loss ads; this setting already exists for other potentially triggering topics, such as alcohol and parenting, and should be extended to weight-loss,” she added. “This setting would make Instagram a safer, and therefore a more inclusive, place for those with a history of disordered eating and/or body image issues.”

It remains unclear whether TikTok’s actions or the petition itself had any bearing on Instagram’s decision.

Budenberg updated her petition after Instagram’s decision to say “I don’t know if it was us, I don’t know if Instagram has just come to their senses, but most importantly – now we can say no to weight loss ads.”

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