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Targeted advertising and privacy

Rules to limit targeted advertising for teenagers

Targeted advertising is controversial and leads to global discussions about privacy. Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, has now introduced new rules meant to fend off criticism of the social media giant’s use of personal data to serve advertisers. From February, advertisers addressing teenagers will not be able to see users’ gender.

“Teens’ previous engagements across our apps, such as the Instagram posts and Facebook pages they’ve liked, will not inform what ads they see”, Meta says in a blog post.

Meta has previously added restrictions that stop advertisers from targeting teenagers with ads based on their interests and activities. The company says the new updates comes in response to research on the issue, direct feedback from experts and global regulation. 

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Meta has most recently been fined Euro 390 million for breaking EU data rules in a five year old case. The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) said the way Meta asked permission to use peoples’ data for ads on Facebook and Instagram was unlawful. Formally, Meta was fiven three months to change how it obtains and uses data to target ads but the company insisted that it strongly believes its approach respects EU privacy rules in GDPR:

“We’re therefore disappointed by these decisions and intend to appeal both the substance of the rulings and the fines”, the company said.

I“Beginning in February, advertisers will only be able to use age and location to reach teens; we are removing gender as a targeting option. Teens will also be able to tell us the types of ads they would rather not see, and learn more about how ads work on our apps”, Meta says in the blog post.

We recognize that teens aren’t necessarily as equipped as adults to make decisions about how their online data is used for advertising, particularly when it comes to showing them products available to purchase. For that reason, we’re further restricting the options advertisers have to reach teens, as well as the information we use to show ads to teens.”   

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The company says it is also introducing more teen-specific controls and resources to help them understand how ads work and the reasons why they see certain ads on our apps. 

“These changes reflect research, direct feedback from parents and child developmental experts, UN children’s rights principles and global regulation”, the company says.

“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.” 

“Starting in March, teens will have more ways to manage the types of ads they see on Facebook and Instagram with Ad Topic Controls, expanding on what’s already available. Teens will be able to go to their Ad Preferences within Settings on both apps, and choose See Less or No Preference to further control the types of ads they see”, the blog post says.

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