Facebook has reportedly monitored the posts of Australian children and used algorithms in a secret study to identify and exploit them by allowing advertisers to target them during their most vulnerable moments.
Leaked internal documents obtained by The Australian outline how the social network can target “moments when young people need a confidence boost” by monitoring posts, pictures and interactions, News.com.au reported on Monday.
Facebook collects the information on a person’s moods including feeling “worthless”, “overwhelmed” and “nervous” and then it divulges the same to advertisers who use it to target them.
Facebook’s tactic violates the Australian Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children guidelines.
The revelation also points towards the how Facebook can be used for covert surveillance which most of the social networking sites claim to be fighting against.
Facebook in a statement to The Australian admitted that it was wrong to target young children and apologised for the same. The company has also ordered an investigation.
“The data on which this research is based was aggregated and presented consistent with applicable privacy and legal protections, including the removal of any personally identifiable information,” Facebook said in a statement issued to the newspaper.
“Currently information about your relationship status, location, age, number of friends and the manner and frequency with which you access the site is sold to advertisers. But according to the report, Facebook is also seeking to sell ads to users concerned with insights gleaned from posts such as those concerned with body confidence and losing weight,” the report adds.