sacks-theadvertisingpoliciesof-2020.pdf (312.9 kB)
The advertising policies of major social media platforms overlook the imperative to restrict the exposure of children and adolescents to the promotion of unhealthy foods and beverages
journal contributionposted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by Gary SacksGary Sacks, Suk Yi Looi
There have been global calls to action to protect children (aged <18) from exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages (‘unhealthy foods’). In this context, the rising popularity of social media, particularly amongst adolescents, represents an important focus area. This study aimed to examine the advertising policies of major global social media platforms related to the advertising of unhealthy foods, and to identify opportunities for social media platforms to take action. We conducted a desk-based review of the advertising policies of the 16 largest social media platforms globally. We examined their publicly available advertising policies related to food and obesity, as well as in relation to other areas impacting public health. The advertising policies for 12 of the selected social media platforms were located. None of these platforms adopted comprehensive restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy foods, with only two platforms having relevant (but very limited) policies in the area. In comparison, 11 of the 12 social media platforms had policies restricting the advertising of alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and/or weight loss. There is, therefore, an opportunity for major social media platforms to voluntarily restrict the exposure of children to the marketing of unhealthy foods, which can contribute to efforts to improve populations’ diets.