Facebook sells data on insecure teens to advertisers

It has been revealed that Facebook is selling data to advertisers in order to target young Australian people when they are at their most vulnerable.


An internal document from Facebook shows how the social media giant is selling data on young Australian users to advertisers. The Australian reveals there is data on 6.4 million high schoolers, students and young people including their psychological state and receptiveness to certain advertisements:

Facebook is using sophisticated algorithms to identify and exploit Australians as young as 14, by allowing advertisers to target them at their most vulnerable, including when they feel “worthless” and “insecure”, secret internal documents ­reveal.

Granular information available to advertisers includes a young person’s relationship status, location, number of Facebook friends they have and how often they access the platform via mobile or desktop. Other moments in young people’s lives Facebook is seeking to sell ads against are associated with “looking good and body confidence”, and “working out & losing weight”.

Facebook has apologised, saying it will open an internal investigation into how this process came about. The Australian reports that the internal document was prepared by two of Facebook's most senior Australian executives, listed as David Fernandez and Andy Sinn.

Not only is Facebook selling data on the status updates of young people but is also using image recognition tools with their subsidiary site Instagram to extract personal data from young peoples photos. The Australian reports:

using image recognition tools, advertisers can see how people visually represent moments such as meal times on the company’s platforms including Instagram, the photo-sharing site that Facebook owns.

Because Facebook rolls out ad products on a regional and global basis, the company could be targeting young children around the world with these methods.

Facebook's tactics appear to be in violation of the Australian Code for Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children guidelines. As Collective Shout has long argued, advertising self-regulation is a failure and this latest scandal is just one in a long history of the advertising industry failing to regulate itself ethically.

Collective Shout has also previously reported on Facebook's failure to protect vulnerable young people online such as the degrading groups set up to harass school girls, after dragging their feet Facebook did remove a page titled "12 year old sluts"


Read more on our campaign to improve advertising regulation here!

Take action to protect young people from sexploitation by joining Collective Shout!


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