Facebook has denied it is targeting insecure young people to push advertising.
A research paper, reported on but not published by The Australian newspaper, was said to go into detail about how teenage users post about self-image, weight loss, and other adolescent issues.
Facebook dismissed the charge – noting the research was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.
“On May 1, 2017, The Australian posted a story regarding research done by Facebook and subsequently shared with an advertiser. The premise of the article is misleading. Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state,” the company wrote in a statement emailed to Fox News. “The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated. 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.”
According to The Australian, the report was seen by marketers working for several major Australian banks.
According to the BBC, the document said Facebook had the ability to monitor photos and other posts for young users who may be feeling “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” “nervous,” “stupid,” “overwhelmed,” “silly,” “useless,” or a “failure.”
“While Facebook does receive requests from advertisers to conduct research, we have a process in place to review the type of research we perform and in this case that process was not followed,” according to a company spokesperson in the statement. “When conducting research, Facebook analyzes whether it would be beneficial to the 1.89 billion people in its community or if it would have adverse effects on them. It also looks at whether people would be surprised if they knew the research was being conducted.”