Facebook Admits Exploiting Children And Insecure Teens With Targeted Ads, Leaked Document Reveals

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald May 02, 04:00 am
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Facebook exploits human weakness, says co-founder Sean Parker
Facebook Australia admitted its marketing researchers mined data of teens and college kids for its advertisers. PICTURED: In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen on March 25, 2009 in London, England.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A leaked document revealed Facebook exploited children and insecure teenagers in targeted ads. The social media site allegedly used algorithms to monitor posts, photos and engagements in favor of the company's advertisers.

The confidential document obtained by The Australian came from an internal source. It cited Facebook algorithms detected words users posted like "nervous," "stupid," "failure," "stressed," among others, which advertisers analyzed to target marketing on vulnerable kids.

The report only covered Australian and New Zealanders as young as 14 and as old as college students. It did not involve data from other countries. Facebook Australia executives allegedly compiled the document, who also identified how teens broadcast their accomplishments on the social media platform.

Facebook admitted the document existed as it issued an apology to The Australian, according to News Corp Australia. The company also promised an internal investigation and admitted that such a practice of data mining to target young vulnerable children for advertising was inappropriate.

Facebook also told Mashable the people behind the leaked document "did not follow" the company's process of research for marketing purposes. "The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook," a spokesperson told the news outlet.

Australian businesses follow strict codes for Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children. The leaked document implied the social media company's mining of user details for the benefit of companies might have been in violation of its provisions.

Facebook got into a similar data mining controversy in the past. In 2012, the company also issued an apology for its psychological experiment on users, The Guardian reported.

Some 700,000 user newsfeeds from around the world became vulnerable for marketing researchers to determine emotions and target its ads. The controversy resulted in Facebook updating its terms of use.

Parents, do you have teens of Facebook? Do you discuss issues like data mining breach with them? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Sound off in the comments below.

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