New Social Media Guidelines for Alcohol Companies to Prevent Advertising to Kids

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general liquor in store 1 - stock photo, Clay Duda/JJIE Staff

Want to interact with your favorite alcohol companies on Facebook? Then you better be able to legally take a drink.

Starting September 30, alcohol companies in the United States and Europe now have to consider a set of self-regulatory guidelines designed to prevent marketing their products to kids, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) issued these rules for advertising and marketing on all branded digital marketing communications, including social networking sites, websites, blogs, mobile communications and other applications.

Alcohol marketers already use age gates on their brand websites, requiring people to enter their birth date to prevent minors from accessing the sites. And they are restricted to advertising only to media where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is expected to be old enough to buy alcohol legally. Recent data from Nielson shows that more than 80 percent of people using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are older than 21, so marketing on these sites is allowed.

DISCUS and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking, developed these new guidelines as an attempt to keep up with technological advancements. Monitoring the rules, however, is expected to be a challenge.

A DISCUS spokesperson told the paper that the group will investigate companies that are not reported to be in compliance with the guidelines.

Several other new rules exist to protect people’s privacy and personal information, including the following:

  1. Brand marketing and product promotions must be clearly identified in media-like blogs.
  2. Instructions must be included encouraging people to only forward promotions to adults who are older than 21 years old.

For more information about alcohol, see JJIE’s resources about youth and drugs and alcohol.

Photo credit: Clay Duda/

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