Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG) unveiled a new policy yesterday designed to prohibit content and sales related to tobacco, including e-cigarettes, and restrict such content related to alcohol products.
The new policy prohibits all private gifting, sales, transfers, and trades of any alcohol or tobacco products on either platform. Any posted content from brands relating to the transfer or sale of these items must be restricted to adults 18 or older.
The new policy is in effect today. CNN reports that the policy also applies to Facebook groups created to sell these products, and that the platform is reaching out to group administrators to help ease the transition.
Groups or individual users who do not follow the ban face removal. Policies already prohibit Facebook Marketplace sales of alcohol and tobacco, but this ban extends now even to regular posts that you and I make, the platform’s organic content.
Facebook and Instagram will use human review, reports from other users, and “technology” to find and remove banned user content. However, it only applies to posts that are trying to sell or promote tobacco or alcohol—not just posts about using. So individual users, even those who are under 18, can still post content about vaping, as long as they’re not selling products.
How does this apply to “influencers,” people who are technically individuals who are being paid to promote these products? So far it doesn’t—but this is likely to change, especially given the heat on underage vaping.
Meanwhile, to be sure you are complying with the ban, simply post as normal about your own vaping, without trying to sell anything. If you are an influencer, use caution and watch for updates. And if you moderate a group on either platform, respond to requests from the company and share experiences if you can.