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Meta plans to restrict data of young people shown to advertisers

Starting in March, advertisers will only be able to see the age and location of teen users.

 

Jacob Seitz

Tech

Posted on Jan 10, 2023

Beginning in March, social media giant Meta will restrict data available to advertisers from teenage users, according to a blog post by the company.

The new rules apply to Facebook and Instagram, where advertisers will no longer be able to see teen users’ gender or the type of posts they have engaged with. Advertisers will only be shown a user’s age and location, according to the blog post.

Meta will also give teens the option to limit the types of ads they see on Instagram and Facebook, allowing them to select “See Less or “No Preference” for certain categories of ads the apps push to them.

The move comes as families and regulators are cracking down on Instagram and Facebook advertising to teens, which makes up a majority of Meta’s ad spending budget. Instagram introduced new advertising restrictions in 2021, allowing advertisers to only see the age, gender, and location of users under 18 and that accounts created by users under 16 would be defaulted to private. Instagram last year rolled out new parental controls and made new teen accounts restrictive by default.

“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,” the company said in the blog post.

The company said that the new regulations were made to reflect “research, direct feedback from parents and child developmental experts, UN children’s rights principles and global regulation.”

This is not the first time the company has been pressured by regulators to make changes. In 2021, shortly before Instagram made privacy changes, Irish regulators launched a probe into whether Instagram publicly exposed children’s contact information by allowing them to post their phone numbers and email addresses publicly, which led to a nearly $500 million fine.

The same year, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told the Wall Street Journal that the company had conducted its own research on the effects of Instagram ads on the mental health of teen girls and that the company knew it was negative.

“We’re always working on more ways to help keep teens safe, provide them with privacy controls, and educate them about how our technologies work,” the company said.

Meta did not respond to a request for comment.

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*First Published: Jan 10, 2023, 2:47 pm CST