Facebook criticised for damaging ads shown to young Aussies | WARC | The Feed
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Facebook criticised for damaging ads shown to young Aussies
Ads for unhealthy foods, alcohol and gambling are being targeted at Australian teens on Facebook and Instagram, according to research from the University of Queensland and Monash University.
Working in partnership with state health promotion body VicHealth, researchers examined Facebook data provided by 83 16-25-year-olds, including 54 aged 16-17, Mirage News reported. They found:
- The younger group was exposed to significant numbers of unhealthy food ads (244 for 16-year-olds, 493 for 17-year-olds)
- They saw fewer ads for alcohol (19 for 16-year-olds, 85 for 17-year-olds) and gambling (1 and 49 respectively).
- Alcohol ads appeared in the Facebook feeds of 93% of 16-17-year-olds in the study.
- 59% of 16-17-year-olds in the study reported seeing alcohol ads regularly or sometimes; 62% reported seeing gambling ads regularly or sometimes.
- The average participant had 6.3 alcohol-related interests and 39 unhealthy food interests recorded as advertising keywords within their Facebook profile.
It’s not the first time that Facebook has been criticised for the appropriateness of the ads it targets to children. Two years ago, lobby group Reset Australia, campaigning to stop the profiling of under-18s, was able to create ads, approved by the platform, to target teenagers interested in gambling, smoking and extreme weight loss. The new research suggests that not much has changed since then and reignites the debate about what is acceptable in digital marketing.
Why it matters
One finding in particular is significant – the association between keywords and consumption. “In their ad model, Facebook attached more alcohol-related keywords to young people who drank more alcohol,” the University of Queensland’s Nicholas Carah reported. And the same was true for unhealthy food keywords and consumption of such foods.
The net effect is to encourage more unhealthy behaviour among youth and store up societal problems for the future.
“This [research] suggests that Facebook is learning which young people have previously consumed the most alcohol and unhealthy foods just by monitoring their use of digital services, then targeting them with more of these ads without directly asking them about it” – Nicholas Carah, Associate Professor and Director of Digital Cultures & Societies at the University of Queensland.
Sourced from Mirage News, BBC
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