Pinterest is saying goodbye to weight loss ads. It’s banning them altogether, becoming the first major social platform to do so.
Pinterest, the online pin-board with more than 478 million users, has taken a bold step in becoming the first major social media network to ban weight loss adverts. While the company said the decision was to promote body acceptance, it reflects a wider trend of the changing, more socially-conscious relationship between advertising platforms, brands and consumers.
The bookmarking site said it will also prohibit ads with language or images that promote or disparage certain body types.
“There’s been a steep rise in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people since the Covid-19 pandemic started last year,” Pinterest (PINS) said in a statement, citing data from the National Eating Disorders Association.
“It’s an expansion of our ad policies that have long prohibited body shaming and dangerous weight loss products or claims,” the statement continued. Since 2015, Pinterest has blocked searches related to pro-eating disorder content. The site also already has rules banning ads that promote weight loss pills or before-and-after imagery.
Pinterest is not the only company to restrict weight loss content. Both Instagram and Facebook clamped down on ads for “miracle” diets and weight-loss products in 2019, but Pinterest is the first to ban these ads completely.
In this shrewd decision, Pinterest is heading off future controversy. In order to mitigate negative effects and protect their own reputations, we advise that all brands and social media companies consider similar action. Advertisers can begin to understand the issues that consumers see as irresponsible by scanning traditional media coverage of controversial advertising, like the Peloton and KFC examples.
“We encourage others in the industry to do the same and acknowledge, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all,” the company said.
Ads promoting “healthy lifestyles” or fitness products and services will still be permitted on Pinterest, so long as they don’t focus on weight loss, the company said. Pinterest developed the policy with guidance from the National Eating Disorders Association.
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