Sophie Bean, 14, of Sequim, Wash., said she was thought she was “liking” a Facebook ad related to fashion modeling. Instead, it promoted a Facebook page that recruited adult webcam models.
“I just thought it was for modeling, and I’m interested in that, and I thought it would help me out,” Sophie said.
Sophie wasn’t the only teen connecting with the page, which Facebook statistics show is most popular with users 13 to 17. Clicking on it didn’t pull the teens into nude webcam modeling, but did mean they would receive the page’s updates and could be mentioned in future versions of the ad.
- From the Wall Street Journal’s recent article: Nude Webcams and Diet Drugs: the Facebook Ads Teens Aren’t Supposed to See
This post is my third in recent weeks exploring what exactly is going on with the Facebook business model. The company reported stellar results in its latest earnings report, which has led to many questions as to exactly how they are making all this advertising money. Well the pieces are finally starting to come together, and the answer is not pretty.
For some context, I suggest you first read the previous articles I posted:
With all that in mind, let’s move on to the third piece of the puzzle. The routine exploitation of the weakness and most gullible members of society, teenage girls.
The crazy thing here is not that some random selection of underage girls are being led to click on ads that direct them to adult video cam sites and dangerous dietary supplements, but that they represent the primary demographic clicking on these ads.
This story from the Wall Street Journal is sure to make your blood boil no matter who you are, but particularly if you are a parent with young children.
From the WSJ:
“Who do you like?” asked recent ads on Facebook, featuring young women in alluring poses.
Some of the ads were configured to reach young teens, who were invited to join an app called Ilikeq that let others rate their attractiveness, comment on their photos and say if they would like to date them.
That’s how 14-year-old Erica Lowder’s picture ended up on display to adult men online. Users of Ilikeq, one of Facebook’s fastest-growing “lifestyle” apps, were able to click through to the Indianapolis girl’s Facebook page.
Advertisers on Facebook can set their ads to reach all users or narrow the focus. Facebook’s website says it can help advertisers target consumers based on an array of user information it collects, such as age, gender, relationship status, politics and type of phone owned.
“We take the quality of ads on Facebook very seriously,” Facebook said in a statement.
Really? You could’ve fooled me.
Facebook used to limit ads to users 18 and older by default. An advertiser who wanted to reach younger people had to change the setting.
In 2011, it eliminated this restriction for some advertisers, so their ads could be shown to all unless specified. That change was extended to all advertisers in 2012, around the time of Facebook’s initial public offering.
Just a coincidence I’m sure…
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