We are calling on the Federal Government to take action to protect Australian kids from harmful alcohol marketing on social media, with new research showing over a quarter of Instagram accounts owned by major alcohol companies are accessible to kids.
Julia Stafford, Chair of the Cancer Council Alcohol Working Group and co-author of the research, said existing voluntary advertising codes are failing to prevent children's access to harmful alcohol content online and must be overhauled.
"Since 2017, the industry-managed advertising code has required alcohol marketers activate age restriction controls on social networking sites to prevent children from accessing alcohol content," Ms Stafford said.
"However, our study, the first of its kind in Australia, demonstrates that some of the top beer, wine and spirit companies in Australia are not complying with even the most basic rules - rules that the alcohol industry wrote itself."
Ms Stafford said the research, published today in Public Health Research and Practice, found that 28% of Instagram and 5% of Facebook accounts owned by nine major alcohol companies were accessible to people under the age of 18.
"We identified 195 brands owned by the top three beer, wine and spirit companies in Australia, and located 153 official Facebook and 151 Instagram accounts," she said.
"Age restriction controls were absent for 43 (28%) of the Instagram accounts and eight (5%) of the Facebook accounts. Only two companies were compliant across all of their accounts.
"These nine companies have significant market share and are all signatories to the industry code, so should be well aware of a rule that has been in place for three years.
"The industry-managed advertising code is a farce; it is clearly not preventing children's access to alcohol content on social media.
"The more children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to start drinking earlier and heavier.
"We need to protect kids from alcohol industry marketing. The Federal Government must create higher standards for how alcohol is promoted across all media channels, including social media."