Facebook and Instagram extract the browsing data of people under 18 years of age, according to a study


Last july Facebook and Instagram they communicated that would only allow advertisers to use age, gender and location to direct advertising to its users under 18 years of age. However, an investigation published on Tuesday reveals that the giant of social networks keep tracking teens.

With what was announced this summer, the platform seemed to limit the scope of “surveillance advertising” on adolescents, a long claim by different organizations that denounced the exposure of minors to the toxicity of the social network. The study, prepared by the NGOs Fairplay, Global Action and Reset Australia, points out that both Facebook and Instagram continue to track them. In an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta –new name of the parent company–, 44 activist groups have denounced that “the large amount of data it collects on children continues to be used to determine which ones are most likely to be vulnerable to a certain ad”.

Although companies that use both platforms to advertise are more limited than before, Facebook and Instagram continue to use all that data from minors to feed their algorithm, a system of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which uses that personal information to create profiles of its users, predict their behavior and modify it. “They can collect data from other browser tabs and pages children open and harvest information such as the buttons they click, the terms they search for, or the products they buy,” he explains.

Advertising and toxicity

The Facebook empire is based on advertising, which involves up to a 85% of your income (about $ 84.2 billion in 2020). That business works through the huge amount of data it collects from its users. Thus, advertisers pay to be able to send personalized advertising to potential customers or voters with a precision that has never existed before. But this juicy business grows at the cost of privacy and poses a danger to people’s autonomy, as multiple experts have denounced.

This investigation comes two months after internal documents leaked by engineer Frances Haugen Uncover that, especially Instagram, encourages the insecurity of young girls with their bodies, amplifies content of eating disorders such as bulimia and accentuates anxiety and depression in adolescents. Facebook knew it and still did not respond to the huge problem.

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