Young adults and teenagers fitting the profile of "depressed" and "insecure" could be targeted by Facebook's system, reports The Australian. Those targeting options were revealed by a 23-page leaked document, triggering an investigation by Facebook.
A couple Facebook executives in Australia described in the document how algorithms collected data on the emotional state of 6.4 million "high schoolers, tertiary students, and young Australians and New Zealanders."
Those algorithms identified "moments when young people need a confidence boost" and may be receptive to certain advertiser messages due to feeling "insecure."
Facebook maintains the system isn't for advertising and is instead only used to help marketers understand how people express themselves on the platform.
Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state. The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. Facebook has an established process to review the research we perform. This research did not follow that process, and we are reviewing the details to correct the oversight. - Facebook
People as young as 14-years-old would have been affected by this system.
Facebook has launched an investigation.
We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate. - Facebook