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Health: Social Media

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 128444, tabled on 23 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking with social media companies to help ensure that (a) content shared by wellness influencers is monitored and (b) to tackle inaccurate information being shared by social media users on matters relating to health, exercise and food.

Answered on

22 March 2022

Rules enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are clear that marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. The ASA has a range of sanctions available if it finds misleading advertising. This includes referring misleading advertising to Trading Standards to investigate under the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Trading Standards’ powers include prosecution and fines.

The Government will consider whether advertising regulation online should be strengthened through the forthcoming Online Advertising Programme consultation taking place this spring. This will review whether the current regulatory regime is equipped to tackle the challenges associated with the rapid growth of online advertising. Some types of advertising by influencers on social media platforms containing misinformation and disinformation content will be addressed by the Online Safety Bill. This content is treated by services and appears to users in the same way as all other user-generated content within the scope of the Bill.