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Facebook allows advertisers to reach children interested in smoking, gambling: Research

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team New Delhi, India Published: Apr 28, 2021, 03:02 PM(IST)

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Children as young as 13-years-old who have shown interest in smoking, gambling, and extreme weight loss can be easily targeted through advertisements, as found by the lobby group Reset Australia

In yet another controversy for the social networking giant Facebook, a group has shed light on how children  are targeted by businesses for age-inappropriate advertisements on the platform.

Children as young as 13 years who have shown interest in smoking, gambling and extreme weight loss can be easily targeted through advertisements, the lobby group Reset Australia found, according to a report in The Guardian.

To prove its point, the organisation set up a Facebook page and an advertising account under the name “Ozzie news network” to ascertain what options the company provides through its platform for management of advertisements officially called “Ads Manager”.

Even though Facebook does not allow advertising alcohol to people aged below 18, it has no mechanisms in place to stop advertisers from targeting children who have shown interest in alcohol.

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The lobby group found that Facebook allowed the page to advertise to approximately 740,000 children in the country aged between 13 and 17. In addition, they found that the page was allowed to advertise to teens aged below 18 who may have shown interest in alcohol, smoking, vaping, gambling, weight less, fast foods and online dating services among many things.

According to their findings, it would cost $3.03 to reach 52,000 teenagers for alcohol ads, while it would take $11.24 to reach 14,000 teens who may have shown interest in gambling.

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Reset Australia has urged the Australian government to come up with a code to regulate children’s data and to assess how data of children is collected and used. They are urging for parents’ consent to be involved in the process and full transparency.

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