Data mining has become a chore to the technology savvy user, challenging to sustain their interest let alone outrage. Being a consumer in the modern world means constantly clicking against our better judgement and insight. We go to bed anxious about surveillance lurking within our social media feeds however awaken mindlessly checking our pages, scrolling, liking, ‘heart-ing’ our followers and friends posts.
However earlier this month, The Australian threw a spanner in the works uncovering something that felt like a breach in the social contract. Leaking a confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million young users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability.
Alarmingly this highlighted Facebook’s ability to micro-target ads down to “moments when young people need a confidence boost” through monitoring user posts, photos, interactions and internet activity. Further analysing when teens felt “worthless”, “insecure”, stressed”, “defeated”, “anxious” and like a “failure”.
From using sophisticated algorithms to identify and exploit Australian youths it can be seen that this was a breach of the Australian Code of Advertising & Marketing Communications to Children guidelines raising questions of Facebook’s ethics. The code which defines a child as a person 14 years or younger, states a “child must obtain a parent or guardian’s express consent prior to engaging in any activity that will result in the collection or disclosure of…personal information”.
With the revelations casting a new light on how Facebook harvest and uses our data the brand’s spokesperson said in reply to The Australian’s exposé “We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and the processes as appropriate”.
However with previous allegations of Facebook using consumer data as a weapon against innocent users I am doubtful of change. Therefore joining the conversation to place more pressure and scrutiny on the media mogul’s actions.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!