Facebook accused of 'misleading' public about ads targeting teenagers

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Facebook is facing more scrutiny over its impact on teens.

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Facebook is still collecting data to serve ads from children and teens, despite changes to how advertisers can reach young people earlier this year, from advocacy groups Reset Australia, Fairplay and Global Action Plan. A report released late Monday said.


The social network, which this year rebranded as Meta, said in July that advertisers would no longer be able to target ads to people under the age of 18 based on their interests or activity on other apps and websites. The changes, made in response to concerns raised by youth advocates, meant that advertisers were only allowed to target teenagers based on their age, gender and location.

In a letter sent to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 46 advocacy groups including Reset Australia, Amnesty International USA and Fairplay accused the social media company of misleading the public and lawmakers about how much it prohibits advertising targeting teens.

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The letter states, “While Facebook says it will no longer allow advertisers to target teens, it appears that Facebook itself continues to target teens, only now with the power of AI. “

Advocacy groups cited a report detailing an experiment in which Reset Australia researchers Elena Yi-Ching Ho and Rhys Farthing, with the help of journalist Mathias Eberl, created three accounts – one registered as a 13-year-old and two 16- years old. The researchers said they found through their experiment that Facebook’s ad delivery system was still collecting data from children and adolescents. The researchers describe this AI-powered system as an “extremely powerful algorithm capable of predicting the advertising that each user might interact with.” According to the report, Facebook was still able to collect data from browser tabs and pages children opened, such as which buttons they clicked, the words they searched for and the products they bought or placed in their basket. .

The groups are urging Facebook to be more transparent about the impact of its ad targeting changes and to end “surveillance marketing” to children and teens.

The social media giant has faced more scrutiny over its impact on teenagers after a former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower. The Wall Street Journal published a series of stories based partly on Facebook’s internal research, including an article about how Facebook knew the issue of “toxic” teenage girls and poor body image for some young people. . Facebook said the research was being misrepresented, noting that Instagram also connected teens to their friends and family.

Advocacy groups say collecting data through AI to serve teen ads is “particularly concerning” because teens with eating disorders or mental health issues may see ads for weight loss. Huh.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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