Instagram just launched the next attack in the corporate campaign to marginalize gun owners.
The Facebook-owned social media giant will not allow influencers to be paid to promote vaping, tobacco products, or weapons, according to CNBC.
The move comes as dozens of other corporate entities work to crack down on legal gun owners. Companies like YouTube, Citigroup, Shopify, Walmart, Kickstarter, and FedEx have all announced policies in recent years designed to restrict lawful products and impede gun enthusiasts from making money selling and promoting firearm-related items.
Instagram’s new policy will prohibit companies from promoting “branded content” that advertises firearms. “Branded content” is a feature that allows a company to promote a post by an “influencer” (a user with a large following) to reach a wider audience. The social media company had already banned advertisements that promote firearms, but until now companies could “boost” posts from private accounts by paying Instagram to send those posts to more people.
The “branded content” feature was announced in June of this year, and an Instagram spokesperson told CNBC that this is the first time they’ve restricted the types of items that can be advertised using the feature.
Instagram’s “influencer” industry has exploded since the company’s founding in 2010. Today, millions of individuals work in markets from fashion to fitness to firearms to build a following big enough to attract partnerships with businesses looking to promote their products. Some estimate that businesses will spend as much as $15 billion on influencers by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019.
This latest policy from Instagram will significantly hinder the ability of Instagram influencers to make money by partnering with gun companies.
Another tech company, Shopify, made a similar move last year that forced gun companies to scramble to keep their businesses from closing. Without warning, Shopify announced that it would prohibit the sale of lawful, non-firearm items such as flash suppressors, threaded barrels, pistol grips, and even magazines larger than 10 rounds.
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Franklin Armory had to work practically overnight to find another host for their website, and company president Jay Jacobson saw the policy change as a small part of a much larger societal movement.
“History is replete with examples of discriminatory practices employed against various societal segments,” Jacobson pointed out. “In almost every case, our nation has legislated equal protection for those segments to prevent unfair practices and discrimination. If Congress does not act soon to provide equal protection to all businesses, it is not too much of a leap to see how only approved businesses or people will be able to buy or sell in future financial markets.”