Reset Australia report takes aim at Facebook profiling of teenage users

Reset Australia, an initiative that describes itself as ‘working to counter digital threats to democracy across the world’, has released a report into the dangers of social media companies’ profiling of teenagers for advertising purposes.

Using Facebook as a case study, the report explores how social media platforms profile and monetise young people’s data and use very personal information to create profiles. It suggests they are being irresponsible about what they allow advertisers to promote to them.

The report was authored by Dylan Williams, Alexandra McIntosh and Rys Farthing and seeks to expose a sort of profiling that Reset suggests is ‘part of Facebook’s day-to-day business.’

As a result of the study, Reset Australia is calling for the introduction of a data code for children and young people under 18 to protect their data and only allow it to be captured for use in their best interests. Reset hopes this would restrict profiling for strictly commercial purposes.

Reset ran a ‘dubious ads’ campaign which it said proved Facebook is not particularly careful about what profiles it allows to be advertised to.

It reported that 77.8% of respondents to a survey of 400 16-17 year-olds who use Facebook or Instagram said they were concerned about the volume of data collected about them online.

Almost two thirds of these respondents expressed disapproval of profiling for commercial advertising purposes, sharing negative emotional responses, calling it as wrong or invasive, or wanting better regulation to curb the practice.

When approached by Mumbrella with the claims made by Reset, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Keeping young people safe across Facebook and Instagram is vital. We have significant measures in place to review all ads before and after they run, including automated systems and human reviewers.

“Anyone advertising on our platforms must comply with our policies along with all local laws and codes, such as those restricting the advertising of alcohol to minors in Australia. To support this, we also have age restriction tools that all businesses can implement on their accounts themselves to control who sees their content.”

Facebook just days ago revealed a new advertising feature across Instagram and Facebook, with the trial of ads on Reels.


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