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Social media giants made $11 bn in US ad revenue from minors in 2022

Social media giants made $11 bn in US ad revenue from minors in 2022

San Francisco: Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube collectively made nearly $11 billion in advertising revenue from US-based users younger than 18 years of age in 2022, a new study has revealed.

In the study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the researchers used a variety of public survey and market research data from 2021 and 2022 to comprehensively estimate Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, X, and YouTube’s number of youth users and related ad revenue.

“As concerns about youth mental health grow, more and more policymakers are trying to introduce legislation to curtail social media platform practices that may drive depression, anxiety, and disordered eating in young people,” said senior author Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

"Although social media platforms may claim that they can self-regulate their practices to reduce the harms to young people, they have yet to do so, and our study suggests they have overwhelming financial incentives to continue to delay taking meaningful steps to protect children,” he added.

In 2022, YouTube had 49.7 million users under age 18, TikTok had 18.9 million, Snapchat (18 million), Instagram (16.7 million), Facebook (9.9 million), and X (7 million), the study found.

The platforms collectively generated nearly $11 billion in ad revenue from these users -- $2.1 billion from users ages 12 and under and $8.6 billion from users ages 13-17.

YouTube derived the greatest ad revenue from users 12 and under ($959.1 million), followed by Instagram ($801.1 million) and Facebook ($137.2 million). Instagram derived the greatest ad revenue from users ages 13-17 ($4 billion), followed by TikTok ($2 billion) and YouTube ($1.2 billion), according to the study.

The researchers also calculated that Snapchat derived the greatest share of its overall 2022 ad revenue from users under 18 (41 per cent), followed by TikTok (35 per cent), YouTube (27 per cent), and Instagram (16 per cent).

“Our finding that social media platforms generate substantial advertising revenue from youth highlights the need for greater data transparency as well as public health interventions and government regulations,” said lead author Amanda Raffoul, instructor in paediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

With agency inputs

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