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Facebook No Longer Allows Advertisers to Target Under 18’s

Facebook No Longer Allows Advertisers to Target Under 18’s

Facebook will no longer allow advertisers to target people under the age of 18 on its platforms based on their interests or their activity on other sites, the social media giant said on Tuesday in a slew of announcements about its younger users.

This means advertisers will soon be able to target under-18s only by age, gender, or location on Facebook, its Messenger service, and its photo-sharing platform Instagram. Instagram said it was making the change because it agreed with youth advocates that young people might not be equipped to make informed decisions about targeting.

Instagram users under the age of 16 years old will also automatically have a private account when they join the platform, the company said, in an effort to stop unwanted contact from adults. They will however still be given the option to switch to a public account and current users can keep their account as public.

Facebook’s approach to younger users has been in the spotlight after lawmakers and attorneys general of the US slammed its leaked plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13 years old. Earlier this year, a group of more than 40 state attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to ditch the idea.

Facebook said on Tuesday it was working on an “Instagram experience for tweens.” It said the idea of a youth-focused app is to provide parents greater transparency and controls on what younger children who want to access Instagram are doing. Several other major social media companies have also rolled out versions of their apps for younger audiences, from Facebook’s Messenger Kids to Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube Kids.

Proponents argue that children are already on a platform and so a family-friendly version provides a much safer environment, but critics maintain that Facebook should not be trying to hook young kids on its services due to risks to their development, mental health, and privacy.

Age verification of children is an issue on most social media sites, which prohibit kids under 13 but often fail to adequately identify and remove underage users. In a separate blog on Tuesday, Facebook’s head of youth products, Pavni Diwanji, said it was using artificial intelligence to improve this verification and remove underage accounts from its platforms.

 


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