Facebook Accused of Targeting Ads at ‘Insecure’ Youths

Facebook is under fire Down Under for allegedly exploiting young people in Australia and New Zealand who are at their most vulnerable.

Image courtesy of  (David Castillo Dominici) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of (David Castillo Dominici) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The social networking firm, according to a 23-page document obtained by The Australian, was using a specific algorithm to discover teens as young as 14 and then permitted advertisers to target them specifically when they were feeling “worthless” and “insecure,” making them more susceptible to sales pitches.

The algorithm reportedly used posts, pictures and reactions to determine the emotional state of 6.4 million “high schoolers, tertiary students, and young Australians and New Zealanders … in the workforce,” in a bid to discover the “moments when young people need a confidence boost.”

A Facebook spokesperson told The Australian an investigation had been opened into the ‘Confidential: Internal Only’ report,  “to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate.”

 It is no surprise that the social media firm is cracking down on those responsible for the 2017 report given that it violates the Australian Code for Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children.
The Code describes a child as a person 14-years-old or younger who must “obtain a parent or guardian’s express consent prior to engaging in any activity that will result in the collection or disclosure … of personal information,” meaning any data that can identify the child.

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