Facebook consistently finds itself in trouble for the controversial ads it allows on its platforms, but a new study from Tech Transparency Project (TTP) could blow up the issue like never before. Researchers with the TTP used Facebook’s own “Imagine with Meta AI” tool to generate seven images, “including young people at a ‘pill party,’ a young woman showing evidence of extreme weight loss, teens vaping, and a young man with a rifle surrounded by what look like dead bodies.” Researchers then added text to the images and submitted them as ads targeted at users aged 13 to 17. Disturbingly, Facebook approved all the ads in less than five minutes.
This horrifying study couldn’t come at a worse time for Facebook, which is already facing dozens of lawsuits around the country for allegedly harming the mental health of young users. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is even appearing before Congress this week to address the issue.
“Meta executives have repeatedly testified before Congress that the company doesn’t allow ads that target minors with inappropriate content,” said Michelle Kuppersmith, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Accountability. “Yet, time and time again, we’ve seen Meta’s ad approval system prioritize taking an advertiser’s money over ensuring the company’s PR promises are kept.”
Time will tell how this study will impact Facebook, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it become a major part of the ongoing push to force the company to clean up its practices.
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