TikTok bans ads for fasting apps, dieting products

The TikTok launch party in Hollywood on Aug. 1, 2018. 

Joe Scarnici | Getty Images

TikTok said Wednesday it’s banning advertisements for fasting apps and weight loss supplements. It will also restrict ads that “promote a harmful and negative body image.”

These sorts of ads have become commonplace on TikTok, which has a substantial young audience. According The New York Times, more than a third of TikTok’s 49 million U.S. daily users are younger than 15 years old.

In recent months, TikTok users have noticed an increase in ads for apps that promote intermittent fasting and other products purporting to help with weight loss.

“These types of ads do not support the positive, inclusive, and safe experience we strive for on TikTok,” TikTok said in a statement. 

The company is also introducing new policies to “combat problematic and exaggerated claims in diet and weight loss products, and placing stronger restrictions on weight loss claims and references to body image,” it said in a blog post.

That means weight management products can only reach users who say they’re 18 or older, and ads that promote weight loss can’t “promote a negative body image or negative relationship with food,” among other rules. 

The news comes a few days after Trump said he agreed to a TikTok deal in principle with Oracle and Walmart, allowing the app’s U.S. operations to continue. But confusion continues over the deal, with TikTok parent ByteDance saying it will own 80% of the U.S.-based TikTok Global, and Oracle saying that Americans will have “majority” control of the new entity. 

TikTok also said it’s partnering with the National Eating Disorder Association to connect users with resources directly from the app. “As part of this, we’ll soon begin redirecting searches and hashtags – for terms provided to us by NEDA, or associated with unsafe content we’ve removed from our platform – to the NEDA Helpline, where NEDA can then provide our community with confidential support, tools, and resources,” a TikTok blog post said. 

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