Facebook and Instagram Are About to Ban Vape and Tobacco Branded Content
Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, will close a loophole in their advertising rules that allowed companies to promote vape, tobacco, or firearms brands posted by social media influencers.
Published on December 19, 2019

Facebook is no fan of weed. Now, advertising vape and tobacco products, as well as guns, will be banned from the company’s “branded content” program.

In June, Facebook rolled out a new “branded content” program so companies could pay to boost any social media influencer’s posts. Influencers often promote brands as a source of their incomes, and some of the top influencers can rake in some serious cash from a single post. By funding ads through branded content, companies can save resources on researching and producing advertisements while relying on an influencer’s audience insights, and force of personality, to do the heavy lifting.

Facebook already implemented advertising bans on vapes, tobacco, and guns, but the rules did not specifically state that branded content couldn’t promote these same products. That meant some vape, tobacco, and firearms companies were circumventing the bans by relying entirely on social media influencers to promote their products, then the companies would dump money into those posts so the message would reach thousands, if not millions, of Facebook and Instagram users.

The new rules also include tighter advertising restrictions on alcohol and dietary supplements. According to Facebook, the bans take effect sometime in the next few weeks, CNBC reported.

If you’re wondering why cannabis isn’t included in these bans, that’s because it's been under a blanket ban for years. Facebook is currently being sued for blocking and banning hemp and CBD ads, even after the US government legalized hemp (and hemp-derived CBD) in late 2018. Facebook has also lost a quarter of its American users over the past year due to violating its users’ privacy, failing to protect user data, and letting political campaigns basically broadcast whatever the fuck they want across Facebook’s network for a small fee.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia just launched its own ad-free social media site, WT:Social, that promises not to spy on its users or pimp out their private data to big corporations. The only downside to WT:Social is that users must pay for a subscription to access the ad-free network.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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