Facebook is alleged to be targeting potentially vulnerable youths who needed a confidence boost to facilitate predatory advertising practices.
The Australian revealed from an obtained internal documents from the social media giant which reportedly showed how Facebook can exploit moods and insecurities of teenagers using the platform for the potential benefit of advertisers.
Although Google is the king of online advertising, Facebook is also considered as a major player by dominating the industry worth of about $80 billion last year.
The confidential document dated this year shows details on how Facebook monitors posts, comments, and interactions on the site. Facebook can figure out when young people feels defeated, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, nervous, stupid, feeling silly, being useless and being a failure.
The information gathered by the system could be used by advertisers to target young Facebook users who are potentially vulnerable through their posts.
The leaked document shows on gaining useful psychological insights on young Australian and New Zealanders in high school and tertiary education.
Social media services can derive immense insight and personal information about us and our moods from the way we use them; arguably Facebook harvests data on its users.
Two Australian Facebook execs puts together this secret document which includes information of young people on how they are likely to feel excited, reflective, as well as other emotions related to overcoming fears. The documents said, Monday to Thursday is about building confidence while the weekend is for broadcasting achievements.
Facebook did not comment on the issue but was quick to issue an apology. They told The Australian that it will conduct an investigation into the matter.
Facebook said in a statement that the data on which the research was based was aggregated and is consist with the applicable privacy and legal protections like the removal of any personally identifiable information. However, some may see that the research could have breached the Australian guidelines for advertising and marketing towards children.
The leaked documents prove that Facebook is engaging in a cynical exploitation of data and that Facebook is exploring ways to manipulate users through the data collected.
The document showed that Facebook ran an experiment on some of its users to determine which status updates appeared in the news feed of nearly 700,000 randomly selected users for one week in 2012. They ran an algorithm based on posts that have emotional content. The negative and positive posts were determined. Facebook can make a sad user to being sadder as it can show more negative post on their timeline.
The result of the study was published in a scientific journal but Facebook was criticized in engaging in social engineering for commercial benefit.
Facebook warns the user through its Data Use Policy. It says that “the company may use the information we receive about you … for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”
Personal information like your relationship status, location, age, the number of friends and the manner and frequency with which you access the site is sold to advertisers.
According to the report, Facebook sells ads based on user’s insights like post concerned with body confidence and losing weight.