Political ads on social media impact mental wellbeing

Political advertising on social media platforms like Facebook have a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

In a speech promoting its recently relaunched Scroll Free September campaign, given at Technology for Marketing at Olympia London, Duncan Stephenson of the RSPH called for people to reflect on their social media usage to lead healthier, happier lives.

According to Stephenson, “social media has many positives but 7 in 10 people [in an RSPH study] reported anxiety and depression”. Concluding the session, Stephenson admitted that political advertising does have an impact.

In mid-September, the Conservative Party was reportedly running 691 active ads on Facebook, more ads than any other party, and recently misrepresented a BBC article in one particular ad.

Facebook recently announced a tightening of rules around political advertising ahead of next year’s US presidential election, requiring advertisers to verify their identity before being given a “confirmed organisation” label.

91% of young people use internet for social networking and rates of anxiety and depression in the same group have risen 70% in last 25 years.