Facebook: Smoking and alcohol ads 'target Australian children'

Sun Online Desk

29th April, 2021 03:25:36 printer

Facebook: Smoking and alcohol ads 'target Australian children'


Facebook approved adverts targeting teenage children interested in gambling, smoking and extreme weight loss, a report says.

Research by the lobby group Reset Australia created a Facebook page under the name Ozzie News Network to explore the advertising options.

And it was able to create targeted ads, based on profiling by the technology giant, for as little as A$3 (£2.16).

Facebook told BBC News it reviewed each ad before and after publication.

'Digital threats'

“Keeping young people safe across Facebook and Instagram is vital,” a spokesman said.

In the UK, the Age Appropriate Design Code was introduced last year to protect children’s privacy.

Cocktail recipe

Facebook forbids advertising alcohol and other inappropriate products to under-18s - but the researchers were able to advertise, for example, cocktail recipe to 52,000 teenage children Facebook identified as interested in alcohol

vape pen to 1,000 identified as interested in smoking or vaping

In total, Facebook’s Ads Manager platform offered access to about 740,000 teenage Australian children.

It identified another 14,000 of these as interested in gambling and others in:

extreme weight loss

fast foods

online dating

Each targeted advertisement cost:

alcohol - A$3.03

gambling - A$11.24

smoking or vaping - A$138.50-210.97

Approved adverts included text:

mentioning winning prizes to those interested in gambling

asking those interested in extreme weight loss if they were “summer-body ready"