The chief executive of the NHS in England has called on all social media companies to crack down on potentially harmful material after two of the biggest sites confirmed they plan to protect users from content that could cause physical or mental harm.
Facebook and Instagram have announced that they will remove posts promoting ‘miracle’ cures and get-slim-quick products, which are known to have limited benefits with possible damaging side-effects.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Every business should put a premium on its customers’ well-being and it’s welcome that social media giants are beginning to listen to NHS calls to rein in harmful or misleading content that could harm users’ health.
“The NHS is ramping up prevention and treatment for mental as well as physical health through our Long Term Plan. Cracking down on ads for get-slim quick pills, misleading health advice and content that can enflame concerns about body image is what responsible companies routinely now all do.”
Earlier this year, the health service warned that celebrity-endorsed ‘health’ supplements and diet techniques can do more harm than good without correct advice, with many – particularly younger – users, risking mental ill health and body image distress as a result of online content.