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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22-27

Misuse of social media marketing by alcohol companies

Department of Community Medicine, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Zakirhusain A Shaikh
Department of Community Medicine, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-8990.164805

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Background and Aims: Epidemiological transition in the form of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now becoming the main cause of mortality and morbidity is very much evident even in developing countries like India. Alcohol is an important risk factor for NCD. The use of alcohol is increasing especially in young people and women. This increased use can be attributed to aggressive and innovative marketing by alcohol, in spite of and due to restrictions on its marketing. Social media, in recent times, has been misused by alcohol companies for marketing their products legally, due to legal loophole. The present study examined the reach of alcohol companies on social media and the marketing strategies used by them. Design, Settings, Participants: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were explored for accounts and content by alcohol companies for marketing their product. Policies of social media sites pertaining to alcohol marketing were also studied. Measurements: Alcohol marketing was measured in terms of content posted by alcohol companies, use of direct or surrogate advertisement and engagement with users. Findings: Alcohol companies have been conveniently using social media to target young urban population with direct and surrogate advertisements of their products. Current social media policies and laws are ineffective in controlling it. Conclusions: Amendment of laws pertaining to alcohol marketing to include social media also in its ambit is necessary. Social media sites should revise their policies to prevent alcohol marketing and promotion especially to underaged users.

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