Facebook is targeting vulnerable youth

Kramer Phillips By Kramer Phillips | 4 years ago

Facebook has come under heavy criticism after leaked documents revealed that the company is targeting potentially vulnerable young people.

The allegations claim that the social media firm is collecting information on youths who “require a confidence boost”, to facilitate predatory advertising practices.

The allegation was reported The Australian, which obtained the internal documents from Facebook.

Dated this year, the confidential documents detail how by monitoring posts, comments, and interactions on the social site, Facebook can work out when children as young as 14 feel ‘overwhelmed’, ‘stressed’, ‘defeated’, ‘anxious’, ‘nervous’, ‘stupid’, ‘silly’, ‘useless’, and a ‘failure.’

Facebook calls this information ‘sentiment analysis’. The information could be used by advertisers to target young, and potentially more vulnerable users.

The secret document is reported to have been collated by two Australian Facebook executives. It includes information on when young users are most likely to feel certain emotions.

“Monday-Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements,” the document allegedly says.

Facebook has since apologized over the issue and told The Australian that it will conduct an investigation into it.

“The data on which this research is based was aggregated and presented consistent with applicable privacy and legal protections, including the removal of any personally identifiable information,” Facebook said in a statement issued to The Australian.

This Is not the first time that the company has monitored its users’ emotions.

In 2012, the firm conducted an experiment on some of its users. In the test, Facebook altered which status updates appeared in the news feed, selected based on the post’s emotional content.

By using an algorithm which determined whether a post was positive or negative, the aim was of the experiment was to see if the selected group became sad.

The results showed that they could.

Facebook was however criticized for the experiment, with some people claiming that the company was engaging in social engineering for commercial benefit.