Facebook has been accused of running a covert surveillance program targeted at Australia teens with the aim to find out when they are emotionally most vulnerable. The social media giant then sold the same info to advertisers who in turn tuned their advertising campaigns accordingly.
According to an internal Facebook report that The Australian had access to, the social media company was able to determine what the teens could have been going through just by watching over their comments, posts or other interactions. Referred to internally as sentiment analysis, the objective of the secret program seems to be to single out those who feel dejected and stressed, making them an easy target for predatory advertising practices.
As things stand right now, Facebook has turned out to be the place for people the world over to pour their heart out with regard to almost every aspect of their life. This trend provides the social media company a vital insight into the personal lives of its users, something that can easily be a gold mine for advertisers to tap into.
With the wealth of personal data that Facebook has access to over the years, it not surprisingly has emerged as the second most favored advertising platform after Google. No wonder, all of its ad exploits runs into tens of billions already.
Interestingly, Facebook along with other social media sites continue to vouch for upholding the personal privacy of its users. While the company right now makes available to advertisers such info like your age, marital status, location, a number of friends or the way you access the site, there is no way to know it isn’t mining your other personal details as well.
For instance, there already are reports it monitors your social interaction to look for such aspects like if you are concerned with your weight or are looking for ways to boost your confidence. Allowing advertisers access to such information will allow them to bombard you with related ads.
Facebook meanwhile has issued a customary apology and has admitted it was wrong to target its young audience or to exploit their vulnerabilities. While such a practice is considered in violation to the Australian Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children guidelines, the social media company said they have launched an internal investigation to look into the matter.