Instagram Will Now Allow You To Block Weight Loss Spam: Here’s How

For many people, weight loss content and adverts appearing on their social media feed isn’t helpful – it’s harmful. Now, Instagram is taking measures to monitor these ads, allowing users to hide the adverts from their feeds.

Regardless of who you follow on social media, the fact remains that unwanted adverts and spam continue to pervade our feeds and if there’s one kind of content we seemingly can’t get away from, it’s that of weight loss. As if it’s not enough that we already have to overcome decades of societal pressures and beauty ideals that have been inculcated into us by the media, now these adverts are coming for us in a space that should be protected. And while some individuals certainly might seek out weight loss tools and advice, for many those that appear unsolicited within the Instagram app aren’t helpful – they’re harmful.

It makes the announcement that Instagram will now look to monitor weight loss content on the app something worthy of celebration, particularly after tireless campaigns from the likes of Jameela Jamil and Katie Budenberg, who have long talked about the need for body positivity across social media. Users can now be spared the kind of triggering content like detox teas and weight loss plans thanks to a new tool which will allow them to select ‘body weight control’ as an ad topic they want to “see less” of. 

In her body positivity campaign, Budenberg launched a petition in which she explained: “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 adds, “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. 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.”

Already, the change has been welcomed by users who have been quick to express their support. “This is super helpful. I couldn’t find ‘body weight control’ but was able to select ‘see less’ on other things like specific weight loss products, probiotic brands I had been seeing a lot of, cleanses, diet advice, and other unhelpful content,” wrote one user on a post from the National Eating Disorders Association. 

While it’s a great development and a step in the right direction, even after blocking the spam, you may still see some weight-loss-adjacent ads popping up on the feed. It might not be a total solution currently, but as Instagram suggests, by opting out, you will still see less of an ad topic than you would otherwise. “You may still see some ads related to these topics even if you chose to see less of them. If you do see an ad related to a topic that you chose to see fewer of, you can hide the ad and we’ll use your feedback to improve the relevance of the ads you see.”

How to block weight-loss spam on your own Instagram feed

On your Instagram profile page, go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Ads’ and ‘Ad topics’. In the drop down list, look for ‘body weight control’ and other similar topics. When you click on them, select ‘see less’ to remove them from your feed. If you can’t find ‘body weight control,’ consider other terms like ‘diet’ and ‘weight loss’ which should provide plenty of terms you can then filter out from your feed. 

If you or someone you know needs support for eating disorders and body image issues, help is available. Contact the Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline at 1800 33 4673 for free and confidential support. 

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