The Australian reports on a leaked memo — described but not published — marked "confidential" and created and distributed internally by Facebook that describes how the system’s surveillance tools can identify children and teens in "insecure" moments when they "need a boost," explaining that they had identified markers to tell them when a young person was feeling "stressed", "defeated", "overwhelmed", "anxious", "nervous", "stupid", "silly", "useless", and a "failure."
Facebook apologized for conducting the research and says it will now conduct an internal investigation to discover why it did so.
In a move that raises profound ethical questions about Facebook’s use of covert surveillance, the document lays out how the world’s biggest social network is gathering psychological insights on 6.4 million “high schoolers”, “tertiary students”, and “young Australians and New Zealanders … in the workforce” to sell targeted advertising.
A presentation prepared for one of Australia’s top four banks shows how the $US415 billion advertising-driven giant has built a database of Facebook users that is made up of 1.9 million high schoolers with an average age of 16, 1.5 million tertiary students averaging 21 years old, and 3 million young workers averaging 26 years old.
Detailed information on mood shifts among young people is “based on internal Facebook data”, the document states, “shareable under non-disclosure agreement only”, and “is not publicly available”.
The document was prepared by two of Facebook’s top Australian executives, David Fernandez and Andy Sinn, and includes information on when young people exhibit “nervous excitement”, and emotions related to “conquering fears”.
Facebook targets ‘insecure’ young people [Darren Davidson/The Australian] (Paywalled/Google cache
Remaining Time -0:00
This is a modal window.
Foreground — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Opaque
Background — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent
Window — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent Transparent
Font Size 50% 75% 100% 125% 150% 175% 200% 300% 400%
Text Edge Style None Raised Depressed Uniform Dropshadow
Font Family Default Monospace Serif Proportional Serif Monospace Sans-Serif Proportional Sans-Serif Casual Script Small Caps