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Teens are Facebook’s Latest Victims

After reading Ray's article on how to permanently delete my Facebook account, I came across another article that seemed to give me even more reason to do so. There’s plenty on the web that's scary, and enough to cause paranoia, without having to deal with the same from a “socially friendly” site.

A leaked 2017 document (paywall) reveals Facebook Australia's intent to exploit teens' words and images. This should give us all pause to reassess exactly how much information we wish to put out there. We are also left wondering if there is any limit to the dangers of abuse from Facebook.

Facebook's ability to predict and exploit users' personal data for profit isn't news, but the latest information is nonetheless startling. Facebook is now abusing its media might by fleecing the feelings of possibly distraught teenagers. With over four million advertisers, it doesn’t take a genius to see how the social media giant might wish to further monetize this advantage, and thus exploit its users in this manner.

It is no secret that Facebook sells its users’ data to advertisers (anything from your pictures to your mobile numbers) raking in billions in the process. The company has made it clear that it will bleed browsing data, regardless of how deeply personal, directly to its advertisers. This, according to Facebook, is because it wants to improve users’ advertisement experience.

Thus it’s unsurprising that even users’ emotional states aren’t off-limits for the media behemoth, along with the guessing of users' ethnicity. The latter has many implications in allowing unfair discrimination when finding housing and acquiring financial objectives.

This is just another stark and sad reminder that, as a Facebook user, you are not its customer. You are its raw material, to mine and manipulate. And to make money from - typically by selling advertising ostensibly keyed to your likes and desires. But the potential damage that this latest money-grab can cause is a bit too much - even by Facebook standards. Some of the emotions of teens that are hoovered up revolve around their obsession with appearance - things such as weight loss, body building, and the like. This highlights Facebook’s ravenous appetite for ad revenue, and could result in body shaming and bullying of the unsuspecting user.

A few caveats regarding this article, which is based on information from The Australian... Though the publication raises questions about whether these youth-targeted advertising practices were the same or similar to those at other international Facebook offices, Facebook contends they are not.

Also, this “exposé” is limited to fewer than seven million youngsters in Australia and New Zealand. And while Facebook disputes the reports, a representative for Facebook Australia nonetheless issued a formal and lengthy apology saying,

"We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate."

However, for many, the genie is already out of the bottle, and the message for the future direction of this sordid saga is clear. There is no apparent retreat from the incessant, avaricious tendencies of the tech titan. Facebook Chairman, Mark Zuckerberg, preaches almost ad nauseam about bringing the world together via social media. Maybe what his company is actually doing is bringing unwary users to their knees in the endless quest to make more money.

Image credit: By Ttatty/Shutterstock.com

Written by: Stan Ward

Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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