Facebook has come under fire after leaked documents revealed the social media site has been targeting potentially vulnerable children, The Independent reports.
The allegations suggest the company is gathering information on young people who “need a confidence boost” to facilitate predatory advertising practices.
Confidential documents obtained by The Australian reportedly show how Facebook can exploit the moods and insecurities of teenagers using the platform for the benefit of advertisers.
By monitoring posts, the newspaper said Facebook could determine when users as young as 14 feel “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “stressed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless” or a “failure”.
This information, which Facebook calls “sentiment analysis” could be used by advertisers to target young teenager when they are potentially more vulnerable.
The company has since issued an apology and said an investigation would be launched into the matter.
Facebook – one of the largest companies to dominate the advertising industry alongside Google – has been at the centre of internet privacy concerns in previous years, with many suspecting the company to be capable of using personal data in this way.