216729 Alcohol marketing to youth in the digital age: The wild west of Facebook

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 2:48 PM - 3:06 PM

Sarah Mart, MS, MPH , Research & Policy, Alcohol Justice, San Rafael, CA
Michele Simon, JD, MPH , Eat Drink Politics, Oakland, CA
With more than 350 million users, the Facebook social networking platform is an alcohol advertiser's dream: very low cost, high exposure, and easy to exploit. A third of its users are under age 21. Facebook changed its advertising policies and regulations in 2009 to solicit and accept paid advertising for products including alcoholic beverages. In addition to paid ads, Facebook makes the rest of its platform available to companies free of charge. Despite Facebook's troubling contribution to youth-oriented alcohol advertising and the connection between advertising, youth consumption, and harm, no systematic review of alcohol promotion on Facebook had previously been conducted. To fill this void, Marin Institute examined the prevalence of alcohol-related content in Facebook Ads, Fan Pages, Applications, Events, and Groups. We also identified aspects that contain alcohol content and are accessible by underage users. With millions of fans associated with tens of thousands of pages for alcohol, and much of that alcohol content available to underage users, alcohol promotion on Facebook presents a significant public health problem. We found that Facebook does not enforce its limited policies regarding alcohol ads. In addition, the company does not apply restrictions or monitor other aspects of Facebook containing alcohol content. We will discuss policy recommendations for both Facebook and the alcohol industry including removal of paid ads and other types of alcohol promotion, use of independent third-party monitors, and enforcement of demographic restrictions, in order to protect youth and young adults from the harmful effects of alcohol advertising.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify 5 aspects of the Facebook social networking platform used by alcohol companies to promote alcohol products and related drinking behaviors Describe the quantities and types of alcohol promotion found throughout Facebook Explain various policy recommendations for Facebook and alcohol corporations to prevent harm from alcohol promotion

Keywords: Alcohol, World Wide Web

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I research the alcohol industry's policies and practices, including marketing and advertising, and the harm they cause to the public's health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.