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11 January 2023
Meta introduces new limits on advertising to teen users
Marketing to Gen ZData protection & privacyStrategy
Meta-owned properties Facebook and Instagram are setting new limits on the amount and type of data advertisers can use to target teenagers, with those users also given additional choice over the ads they see.
Why it matters
A steady flow of young users is vital to any social media app, but advertising to them responsibly has been a complicated area for Meta, which tends to draw huge scrutiny because of its size.
These changes follow a big fine from the Irish Data Protection Commission, based on the practice of defaulting all accounts to public. It’s worth reading this policy change in light of Meta’s appeal against the fine amid broader scrutiny.
These concerns aren’t new, and while an answer may lie in simply turning ads off until users turn 18 – assuming they remain on the platform that long – it appears that ads targeting younger users remain valuable enough for the company to face the scrutiny that comes with it.
The policy shift
In a blog post, the company explains that, starting in February, advertisers can no longer target under-18s based on gender and in-app activity, including following certain Instagram posts or pages on Facebook.
“Age and location will be the only information about a teen that we’ll use to show them ads. Age and location help us continue to ensure teens see ads that are meant for their age and products and services available where they live,” the company adds.
In March, under-18 users will also have the choice of seeing less advertising around a particular topic, which Meta explains as an expansion of existing controls.
Wider mental health concerns
While separate from advertising, the issue of teen social media users’ mental health is once again in the news, with school boards and other concerned parties bringing lawsuits against social media firms including, but not limited to, Meta properties. These follow numerous academic studies linking excessive social media use to adverse mental health.