We all know websites gather up data or cookies from us every time we go online, and then provide ads that might cater to our interests or needs, but is there a point when any of these websites go too far?
In Australia, for example, Facebook has reportedly been gathering data on “vulnerable teens,” and pushing ads towards them when they most need a “confidence boost.” A 23-page document was leaked from top Facebook Australia executives regarding employees collecting data from teens who are in such an emotional state, although, of course, Facebook says the article regarding the leak was “misleading.”
A statement from Facebook released Sunday reads:
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.
Facebook Australia reportedly analyzed 6.4 million high school and college students, specifically looking for likes, comments, or shares that indicated that the user was feeling “stressed,” “defeated,” “overwhelmed,” “anxious,” “nervous,” “stupid,” “silly,” “useless,” and/or a “failure.” While this is kind of sorry anyways, targeting emotional and vulnerable teens, targeting and monitoring users 14 years old or younger could violate Australia’s Code for Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children.
Not a good look for Facebook right now, but if users sign up, and agree to the terms of service, should they be allowed to do what they want with the data, as long as it doesn’t violate any laws or codes?