NHS urges social media to provide greater online protection

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has called on all social media firms to crack down on potentially harmful material.

The call was made after Facebook and Instagram 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.

Stevens says that this was the result of a series of requests from health service chiefs to act responsibly and protect users from content that could cause physical or mental harm.

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.

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.”

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