The United States Federal Trade Commission is currently examining underage exposure to online alcohol marketing, reports REUTERS. The FTC review will lead to recommendations to the alcohol industry on how to better protect minors from exposure to their marketing.


As reported earlier in April of 2012, the FTC is extensively looking into digital alcohol marketing, for the first time since 2008. The study incorporates data from 14 big alcohol producers. Because this previous review took place before the explosion of social media and mobile devices things are expected to have changed quite a bit.

The current investigation of underage exposure, follows comments by the Center for Digital Democracy and the Berkeley Media Studies Group of the Public Health Institute. These organizations have released a study suggesting that online alcohol marketing should be put under more scrutiny by advocates, public health researchers, and regulators because of the high levels of underage exposure. Also, recent research suggests a robust relation between exposure to online alcohol marketing and young people’s drinking behavior.

The FTC would not comment on potential recommendations that might come out of the study. However, spokespersons did stress that they do not intend to impose restrictions on liquor company social media advertising. As it stands the motivation of coming up with recommendations instead of regulations is ‘to promote better self-regulation’.

When asked for a reaction to this, Sarah Mart of US alcohol watchdog Alcohol Justice told REUTERS: “The industry says its self-regulating but it’s ineffective and social media opens up a whole new set of problems because their ads are everywhere.” Health advocates are disappointed that the study will only lead to recommendations, and not regulations. David Jernigan of Johns Hopkins University told REUTERS that Facebook and other interactive platforms are poorly monitored and not well age protected: “Anyone can say they’re 21 and click yes.”

Source: REUTERS 01/22/13

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