HomeTechFacebook accused of 'misleading' the public about ads targeting teens

Facebook accused of ‘misleading’ the public about ads targeting teens

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Facebook has faced increased scrutiny over its impact on teens.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Facebook continues to collect data from children and adolescents, despite making changes to the way advertisers can reach young people earlier this year, a report released Monday night by advocacy groups Reset Australia, says Fairplay and Global Action Plan.

The social network, which changed its name to Meta this year, 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 teens 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, accuse the social media company of misleading the public and lawmakers about how much it restricts advertising aimed at teenagers.

“While Facebook says it will no longer allow advertisers to selectively target teens, it appears Facebook itself continues to target teens, only now with the power of artificial intelligence,” the letter says.

The advocacy groups cited a report detailing an experiment in which Reset Australia researchers Elena Yi-Ching Ho and Rys Farthing, with the help of journalist Matthias Eberl, created three accounts: one registered as 13 years old and two as 16 years old. -Ancient. The researchers said they discovered through their experiment that Facebook’s ad delivery system is still collecting data from children and teens.

The researchers describe this AI-powered system as an “extremely powerful algorithm that can predict the advertising that each user may interact with.” Facebook can still collect data from browser tabs and pages kids open, information like which buttons they click, terms they searched for, and products they bought or put in their basket, according to the report.

Meta spokesman Joe Osborne said the company has not seen the report, but said the social network “does not use data from the websites and applications of our advertisers and partners to personalize ads for people under the age of 18.”

“The reason this information appears in our transparency tools is because teens visit sites or applications that use our business tools. We want to provide transparency to the data we receive, even if it is not used for ad personalization,” he said. .

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

The social media giant has faced increased scrutiny over its impact on teens after former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked thousands of pages of internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission. USA and Congress. The Wall Street Journal ran a series of stories based in part on Facebook’s internal investigation, including an article on how Facebook knew it was “toxic” to teenage girls and made body image problems worse for some young people. Facebook said the investigation was being mischaracterized, noting that Instagram also connected teens with their friends and family.

Advocacy groups say data collection via artificial intelligence to serve teens’ advertising is “especially concerning” because a teen with an eating disorder or struggling with mental health issues may see weight loss ads. .

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