AUSTRALIA’S peak medical body has censured the social media giant Facebook for allowing alcohol companies to target children.
The Australian Medical Association released its report yesterday into the alcohol industry’s growing profile in social media circles.
Within hours of the release of the report, Facebook representatives sought a meeting with the association to discuss their criticisms.
Social media sites offered numerous advertising opportunities for alcohol marketers, the report found. Boxed ads for alcohol were appearing alongside user profiles and conversations, while companies were setting up their own Facebook pages that people of any age could ”like”. Facebook pages could be used to invite users to events, parties and competitions sponsored by alcohol companies, targeting children in an indirect way.
”Social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace are honing a more aggressive and insidious form of marketing that tracks online conversations and profiles, and tailors specific marketing accordingly,” the report said.
”Digital technologies are creating unprecedented intimacies between children and marketers.”
The summit, held at Parliament House, also called on the government to launch a federal inquiry into alcohol marketing that could force the industry to hand over highly prized advertising strategies and market research.
The report was released at National Alliance for Action on Alcohol, and its chairman, Mike Daube, said the head of policy and communications for Facebook Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, had recognised summit attendees were highly concerned about the impact of social media.