Facebook, Instagram change rules around alcohol, tobacco, vaping

Yesterday while the world was binge watching the Mueller hearings, Facebook unveiled a new policy which restricts the sales, promotion, and content related to alcoholic beverage, combustible tobacco, and vapor products.  Instagram – whose parent company is Facebook - is also following suit. 

According to CNN, the new policy will ban “prohibit all private sales, trades, transfers and gifting of alcohol and tobacco products.”  However, social media groups can easily skirt the new guidelines by simply restricting viewer access to only adults over the age of 18.

The social media giant is already reaching out to administrators of Facebook and Instagram groups which were specifically created to market and sell alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarette products.  Facebook also reserves the right to shut down, perhaps without prior notice, any group or individual user who violates the new requirement going forward. 

Private users should avoid selling or trading or risk suspension

The company’s policies already prohibit the sales of tobacco, alcohol, and electronic cigarettes through its platform, but Facebook is now extending these restrictions to “organic content” posted by “private users.” 

For example, let’s say that Joe Average creates a post in a Facebook group – any group - where he is attempting to sell or trade an older model, used vape mod to one of the group’s other members.   The next time Joe Average logs into Facebook, he might be surprised to learn that his personal account has been permanently or temporarily suspended.  This new prohibition further extends across the entire platform, whether Joe is posting his vape mod advertisement in a Facebook group about monster trucks, rock climbing, or vaping.  The same rule now applies for Instagram accounts and groups, too.

Paid Facebook influencers safe – for now.

A company spokesperson also told CNN that “so-called influencers who are paid to promote nicotine-containing products will also be allowed to post content related to tobacco and vape products. Those posts will not have to be age restricted.” However, she also emphasized that future revisions to influencer policies may a be forthcoming in the very near future. 

The crackdown on alcohol, tobacco, and e-cig policies comes just hours before a scheduled congressional hearing on Capitol Hill where Juul’s alleged role in the teen vaping “epidemic” is the primary focus of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.  However, the spokesperson for the social media site denies that the two events are related.

Related Article:   Juul pulls the plug on Facebook, Instagram activity; Twitter still active

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