Meta Continues To Siphon Browsing Data Off Of Minors, Despite Publicly Pledging Not To Do So

Recent research and surveys conducted by a trio of campaign groups reveals that Facebook and Instagram are gathering browsing data from users aged 18 or below.

The internet is quite a difficult place for the current generation to grow in. It’s almost impossible to separate oneself from the online world, considering just how ingrained it is into most of our daily life activities, if not all of them. This has the adverse effect of impressionable individuals getting attached to an environment that is absolutely not considerate of their age or their well-being. Exposure’s very difficult to control, and you know what makes it so much worse? A social media platform that very actively insists on collecting browsing data from such minors without in any shape or form making their consent part of the equation.

Prior readers are probably very familiar with my distaste for Meta’s data collecting policy, which essentially boils down to “invade privacy first, ask questions never”. The company’s been in near constant hot water for nearly over a decade due to such practices, yet things haven’t really changed. The recent series of incidents, incited by ex-employee and current whistleblower Frances Haugen have led to governments taking an even closer look at Meta and its social media platforms (namely Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp). Hopefully something comes of Congress’ second go at the social network, but I’m not particularly hopeful. The topic we’re discussing today has much to do with this.

Meta had pledged back in July to stop siphoning data off of minors, instead settling for a three metric system that advertisers would use for targeted ads. The metrics include age, gender, and general location. However, recent data assembled and presented by three activist groups; namely Global Action Plan, Reset Australia, and FairplayForKids. The conclusion they came to was that Meta very much continued to exploit browser history from minors, selling the data to third party advertisers.

There is something inherently wrong with a company that does something like this with minors. In a day and age where exploration of both oneself and the world is already fraught with terrible people and terrible intentions, Meta is actively using a safe, private space that youngsters have and deforming it into another capitalistic cash grab. Advertisements based off of personal interests, algorithms that change content with the user’s interests; these seem like fun commodities, but they reveal just how little privacy we have in the current world. Now, isn’t that a sad thing to hear for the youth?

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