Woman’s era; by Himshikha Shukla; May 13, 2023
It was recently revealed that Instagram and Facebook have begun displaying ads targeting young people with high risks of becoming addicted to alcohol, gambling, and junk food. Activists have already launched a program to protect teens and young adults from digital marketing that can cause irreparable damage to their health and lives.
A study conducted by scientists from Queensland and Monash Universities in collaboration with VicHealth found that young people between the ages of 16 and 25 receive many suggested posts containing junk food, no deposit signup casino bonuses lists, and alcohol.
According to Nicholas Cara, associate professor and director of digital cultures and societies at the University of Queensland, Facebook data previously uploaded by young scientists on their team were analyzed.
It was found experimentally that ads for alcohol, gambling, and junk food often appear on the feeds of young people 16 and older. At the same time, companies collect more than one hundred types of data about users who click on such posts and links. This suggests that all of this is being done in a targeted way.
The study was based on the experiences of 83 young people between the ages of 16 and 25, with 54 participants between the ages of 16 and 17.
They were each assigned about 787 ad interests by nearly 200 advertisers, including alcohol companies and online casinos. Surprisingly, ads for alcoholic beverages appeared in 93% of the users’ feeds between the ages of 16 and 17, which is against the law altogether. Also, it is interesting that 21% of the subjects got the category “gambling”, although they didn’t indicate such interests anywhere.
In the end, it became clear that Facebook is attaching more keywords related to alcohol to those who use it. The same goes for junk food, images, and recipes which are appearing more and more online.
Jane Martin, executive director of the Obesity Coalition, believes that the government should not allow big companies to target young people with this kind of advertising because it puts a lot of pressure and risks “hooking” them on unhealthy lifestyles.