Facebook has recently come under fire for allowing ads related to drugs and alcohol to be targeted to teen users. And this week, the nonprofit group Tech Transparency Project (TTP) proved this to be true once again by submitting six fake ads to Facebook that were approved within hours.
According to the TTP report, the ads were targeted at users between ages 13 and 17, and promoted controversial topics ranging from pill parties to vaping and extreme weight loss tips. After these ads were approved, Facebook’s algorithmically-created interest categories allowed them to reach, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of children.
“This is an easy fix, and Facebook should have had the foresight to make it a long time ago,” Tech Transparency Project director Katie Paul told WIRED. “Whether this was an oversight or a money-grab is not important. It’s completely unacceptable.”
“There’s absolutely no reason why Facebook should have tagged nearly a million teens as potentially interested in ‘alcoholic beverages’ and other categories,” Paul continued.
As is often the case with Facebook, the company doesn’t intentionally want to serve this kind of content to children. However, it also isn’t doing enough to stop its automated processes from doing it anyway.
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