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Activists say Facebook allows drug ads to target teens

Teens on Facebook it can be targeted through ads that support alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, and eating disorders, according to a report by a group of guards. The Tech Transparency Project created and submitted six test ads Facebook, Saying it wanted to reach users between the ages of 13 and 17, Facebook accepted all ads within a few hours, including promoting pill parties in 43 minutes.

“That’s an easy solution, and Facebook had to have a foresight to do that a long time ago,” said Katie Paul, director of the Tech Transparency Project. “It’s not important to supervise or receive money. It’s completely unacceptable. “

Facebook and wider website, its algorithms keep track of your behavior. In the end, it classifies you according to what you see around you: your political leanings, your favorite music, your interests and hobbies, and so on. This is what attracts advertisers who want to show ads tailored to those groups.

But a lot users do not know Facebook can deduce everything from its race to sexuality or relationship status only from online activity. In addition, some of these categories are unsuitable for minors. The report found that Facebook used adolescent behavior to place “alcoholic beverages,” “weight loss,” and “tobacco” in the interest categories, even if the teens were unmarried, they could be targeted through site ads.

All Facebook users are placed in interest categories. But minors under the age of 18 will not be placed in certain adult categories. Facebook has got it in hot water at least for showing inappropriate ads for children since 2014 as recently as 2019, through an investigation The Guardian they found that the children were still labeled as interested in tobacco and alcohol.

Journalists have encountered other problems with the company’s algorithmically generated categories. In 2017, a ProPublica report found the company he allowed advertisers aimed at users who list their occupation as “Jewish hunters”. The following year Facebook apologized for stating this thousands of users In Russia “they were interested in betrayal.” Then, in 2019, Facebook settle with civil rights groups the company complained that advertisers could discriminate against certain groups when posting ads for jobs and homes.

Facebook it has railings instead of showing it to underage users, but the TTP director says the test ads have been approved “within a few hours”.

“There’s no reason why Facebook should label nearly a million teens“ interested in alcoholic beverages ”and other categories,” Paul said.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company could not comment without seeing the report.

TTP has created six ads, each designed around a topic that users under the age of 18 should not see. Among them is an ad for “ana tips” (a well-known abbreviation for “ana” anorexia), which TTP says Facebook classifies users as interested in “extreme weight loss” and “diet food”. A fake vaping ad was aimed at underage users interested in “electronic cigarettes” and “tobacco”. Advertisers are not permitted to contact users under the age of 18 with site ads, but the TTP test ad is only accepted within two hours.

In addition to creating categories, Facebook also shows advertisers the “expected reach,” the number of users after placing ads. Facebook would see as many as 900,000 users in the alcohol ad, and 5 million in the exit site ad. The group warns that without immediately addressing how social media controls ad placement rules, Facebook is “in a position to take advantage of harmful messages … it’s aimed at a vulnerable age group.”


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