Report: Facebook Continuing to Spy on Teens for Ad Targeting

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook creepy smile
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD /Getty

According to a recent report by Fairplay, Global Action Plan, and Reset Australia, Facebook (now Meta) is continuing to track teenagers for ad targeting across its social media platforms despite claiming it would be limiting how advertisers could reach young users.

TechCrunch reports that Facebook is continuing to track teens for ad targeting purposes across its social media platforms according to new research from Fairplay, Global Action Plan, and Reset Australia.

Facebook claimed earlier this year that the tech giant would be limiting how advertisers reach young people. Since then, the company has been accused of not shutting down ad targeting for teens and retaining its algorithms’ abilities to track and target kids.

teenagers look at phone

teenagers look at phone ( NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is applauded as he delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on April 30, 2019. – Got a crush on another Facebook user? The social network will help you connect, as part of a revamp unveiled Tuesday that aims to foster real-world relationships and make the platform a more intimate place for small groups of friends. (Photo by Amy Osborne / AFP) (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook is accused of not actually making any meaningful changes to its systems and continuing to retain its systems’ abilities to track and surveil children and teens in order to maximize ad engagement and boost revenue. Many believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is failing to protect its most vulnerable users from manipulative marketing, choosing instead to make a show of removing a layer of targeting control from advertisers to imply that the company is looking out for its users.

In response to the latest research, Facebook denied that it is using the tracking data that is still linked to teen users’ accounts to “personalize” ads, but did not explain why it was still collecting this data. Researchers found evidence that advertising on Meta’s platforms continues to be “optimized” for teens by algorithms and that Meta is using harvested information about children’s online behavior to power its AI-driven ad targeting in order to continue to generate profits.

But in July when Facebook announced changes to advertisers’ ability to target younger users, the tech giant implied that targeting would be limited to age, gender, and locations and that it would  “only allow advertisers to target ads to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location.”

Following their research, the coalition of advocacy groups wrote in a letter:

“[W]hile Facebook says it will no longer allow advertisers to selectively target teenagers, it appears Facebook itself continues to target teens, only now with the power of AI, replacing ‘targeting selected by advertisers’ with ‘optimisation selected by a machine learning delivery system’ does not represent a demonstrable improvement for children, despite Facebook’s claims in July.”

“Facebook is still using the vast amount of data it collects about young people in order to determine which children are most likely to be vulnerable to a given ad. This practice is especially concerning, given ‘optimisation’ might mean weight loss ads served to teens with emerging eating disorders or an ad being served when, for instance, a teen’s mood suggests they are particularly vulnerable.”

Read more at TechCrunch here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.