[ArsTechnica] Facebook helped advertisers target teens who feel “worthless”
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Article Summary Wrote:Facebook helped advertisers target teens who feel "worthless"
Facebook's secretive advertising practices became a little more public on Monday thanks to a leak out of the company's Australian office.

This 23-page document, discovered by The Australian, details in particular how Facebook executives promote advertising campaigns that exploit Facebook users' emotional states-and how these are aimed at users as young as 14 years old.

According to the report, the selling point of this 2017 document is that Facebook's algorithms can determine, and allow advertisers to pinpoint, "Moments when young people need a confidence boost." If that phrase isn't clear enough, Facebook's document offers a litany of teen emotional states that the company claims it can estimate based on how teens use the service, including "Worthless," "Insecure," "Defeated," "Anxious," "Silly," "Useless," "Stupid," "Overwhelmed," "Stressed," and "a failure."

This document makes clear to advertisers that this data is specific to Australia and New Zealand-and that its eyes are on 6.4 million students and "Young [people] in the workforce" in those regions.

When reached for comment by The Australian, a representative for Facebook Australia issued a formal and lengthy apology, saying in part, "We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate."

Facebook Australia did not answer The Australian's questions about whether these youth-targeted advertising practices were the same or similar to those at other international Facebook offices.

The Australian's report does not include screen shots of the document, nor does it describe sample advertising campaigns that would take advantage of this data.

Two Facebook Australia executives, Andy Sinn and David Fernandez, are named as the document's authors.

Facebook's ability to predict and possibly exploit users' personal data probably isn't news to anybody who has followed the company over the past decade, but this leak may be the first tacit admission by any Facebook organization that younger users' data is sorted and exploited in a unique way.

This news follows stories about Facebook analyzing and even outright manipulating users' emotional states, along with reports and complaints about the platform guessing users' "Ethnic affinity," disclosing too much personal data, and possibly permitting illegal discrimination in housing and financial ads.

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