Report: Facebook Advertisers Target Emotional Teens

Facebook is denying it targets insecure young people to push advertising.

An internal document reported by The Australian shows how Facebook uses algorithms to target advertising when users -- including children as young as 14 -- are feeling "stressed," "stupid" or "useless."

“Advertising isn't necessarily bad and there's a tremendous amount of advertising that's directed at young people, but the issue is when advertising is trying to go after people at certain emotional or vulnerable moments,” says Joe Jerome at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Jerome says this is why parents need to discuss social media habits with their children.

“The digital ecosystem is broad and vast and a lot of it is really opaque, users give away a lot information about how they're feeling online that can be used by companies and by others for good and bad, so a lot of what really needs to be done is face-to-face interaction in the real world,” he says.

Facebook doesn't deny the document, but the social media giant calls the report misleading, and is looking into it.

“It requires individuals to really think seriously about the type of information they could be inadvertantly providing online,” says Jerome.  “But it also raises some really big serious societal questions there are no easy answers to and that we frequently don't actually want to address out in the open.”

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