Australian medics slam social media for marketing alcohol

The Australian Medical Association has criticised Facebook and other social media networks for allowing alcohol companies to market their products to children.

Australia’s leading medical body, releasing a report into alcohol marketing and young people, said that social media sites offered numerous opportunities for companies to reach children. The report said that advertisements for alcohol were being delivered alongside user profiles and online conversations, and companies were setting up Facebook pages that can be “liked” by users of any age.

President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Steve Hambleton, said the growth of digital marketing was having a major impact: “These forms of marketing often fly under the radar of regulators, policymakers, and the wider community, but have important implications for public policy and marketing regulations.”

In the report, the AMA calls on the Australian government to impose stronger regulation. It concludes: “The current policy regime is totally inadequate in protecting young people from continued exposure to alcohol marketing. Industry self-regulation is deeply ineffective and has failed.”

Facebook executives have already sought to meet the AMA to discuss their concerns, which could have implications beyond Australian borders.

The AMA report also called for alcohol companies to be banned from sponsoring sporting events, and music events targeted at young people.

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