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Science
02 May 2017

Facebook is peddling ads by targeting teenagers who feel "defeated"

Facebook targets teenagers feeling hapless, as ad baits

Facebook currently has more than 2 billion users and it's not shy of exploiting them for revenue.

In a sordid turn of things, it has recently come to light that Facebook helped advertisers to target Australians teenagers, as young as fourteen, who have vented their frustration on its platform by using words like "useless", "failure" and "defeated".

Here's how it all went down.

In context

Facebook targets teenagers feeling hapless, as ad baits
If you are feeling "worthless" try this product

Selling products

If you are feeling "worthless" try this product

A 23-page document was discovered by 'The Australian', which showed that Facebook was capable of finding "moments when young people need a confidence boost."

The social-media giant mentioned that it could spot when the targeted teen demographic felt "worthless", "overwhelmed", "nervous" and a "failure" and would allow advertisers to use these emotionally vulnerable phases as an opportune moment to solicit their products and services.

Moneyminded

All in the name of money

The document, authored by Facebook employees, also discussed how image recognition tools could be used to focus on body image and weight loss.

Needless to say that this action not only violates the Australian Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children guidelines but also raises questions on how low a social media platform is ready to stoop in order to earn revenues.

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Remember when this happened?

Negative impact

Remember when this happened?

In 2012 a study was conducted with the help of Facebook which aimed to find out "whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed."

Facebook randomly selected 700,000 users to find out if they could coerce the users into getting depressed by putting negative content on their feeds.

Sadly, it could.

Fineprints

What your social-media account takes from you

One usually avoids reading the fine print, so this would be a good time to point out excerpts from Facebook's policy section.

Facebook's data policy reads, "We collect the content and other information you provide … create or share, and message or communicate with others." Further, "We collect information about the people and groups you are connected to and how you interact with them."

A half-hearted apology to escape blame

Apology

A half-hearted apology to escape blame

Facebook has released a statement explaining its stance on the report, that says the premise of the article was misleading, and apologized for the fiasco in a roundabout way.

The statement read, "Facebook has an established process to review the research we perform. This research did not follow that process, and we are reviewing the details to correct the oversight."

Yeah, right!

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