CAPE CANAVERAL: As it fights accusations that its platforms are harmful to young users, Meta, the owner of Instagram and Facebook, announced on Tuesday that it will no longer permit advertisers to target ads at teens based on gender.
The social media giant announced in February that advertising—the company’s main source of revenue—would only be able to target ads at teens worldwide based on age and location.
According to the company, a teenager’s previous activity on Meta-owned apps will no longer inform the ads they see, which is another break from practice.
“Those teens aren’t necessarily as equipped as adults to make decisions about how their online data is used for advertising,” Meta stated in a blog post, explaining why the changes were made.
Meta stated that the modifications would adhere to new guidelines for content aimed at young people in a number of nations and reflect feedback from experts and parents.
The company that was formerly known as Facebook is under increasing pressure to curtail its practice of serving users narrowly targeted advertisements, which generates billions of dollars in revenue for advertisers each year. The company is also subject to fines.
The Silicon Valley titan was fined $413 million last week as part of a years-long dispute over advertising with the European Union. This came after a lengthy legal battle.
Worryingly for Mark Zuckerberg’s company, European regulators also rejected Meta’s legal justification for collecting user personal data for targeted advertising.
Regulators have also looked into Google and Apple and fined them for breaking privacy laws with targeted ads.
Meta and other social media giants have mostly been scrutinized by local authorities in the United States, and nationwide laws have been blocked due to intense lobbying by tech giants and a Congress in Washington that is divided along political lines.
Last week, the public school district in Seattle, Washington, filed a lawsuit against tech giants like Meta for allegedly harming students’ mental health and causing depression and anxiety.
“Holding social media companies accountable for the harm they have wreaked on the social, emotional, and mental health” of teenage students, according to public school administrators.