Leaked Facebook Docs Depict Kids as ‘Untapped’ Wealth

Kids between 10 and 12 are a ‘valuable but untapped audience,’ company research says.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published the latest in its investigative series “The Facebook Files,” diving even deeper into the ubiquitous platform’s efforts to target and recruit young children.

Internal documents obtained by the Journal now reveal that Facebook formed a special team to study children and ponder ways in which they could be monetized. One such document is said to refer to children between the ages of 10 and 12 (“tweens”) as a “valuable but untapped audience.” Another suggests “leveraging playdates” as means to drive Facebook’s “growth.”

Another document cited by the paper, dated March 2021, notes that Facebook is struggling with “global teen penetration” and warns that “acquisition” of teen users “appears to be slowing down.” Internally, Facebook expects its teenaged audience to plummet by an additional 45% by 2023, according to the Journal.

Facebook’s lucrative ad-driven business derives nearly all of its profit from the pervasive tracking of its users; data which it, in turn, uses to create exhaustive behavior profiles used to “micro-target” ads and measure their effectiveness. While federal law prohibits the harvesting of data belonging to children under the age of 13, Facebook has spent years searching for a way to convince children to adopt its services as soon as they’re old enough to be tracked.

Another Facebook document cited by the Journal states that children are “getting on the internet as young as six years old.” “Imagine a Facebook experience designed for youth,” it says.

This week, Facebook said it was pausing efforts to launch an “Instagram Kids” app. The announcement followed another Journal report indicating Facebook was aware through internal research that Instagram had had negative impacts on some teenage users’ mental health. “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” the research said, noting as well that some teen girls had traced their own suicidal ideations to their experiences on the platform. Facebook later claimed that line from the research was misleading, and that the finding only applied to “those teenage girls who told us they were experiencing body image issues reported that using Instagram made them feel worse—not one in three of all teenage girls.”

The report led Democratic lawmakers to call on CEO Mark Zuckerberg to shutter the Instagram Kids project, saying they believe the app “poses significant threats to young people’s wellbeing.”

Facebook has challenged the Journal’s characterization of its Instagram research, but has so far refused to make that research available for review—and has worked to frustrate independent research into its platforms’ inner workings, generally. Nick Clegg, the company’s policy chief, said at a conference on Monday that Facebook will release two internal slide decks summarizing its research “both to Congress and then to the public in the next few days.”

The Facebook documents referring to children as a “valuable” and “untapped” demographic run contrary to its stated motivations for rolling out a kids-centric service: Facebook has argued that kids under 13 are likely to try and join Facebook and Instagram anyway while lying about their age. Creating an app specifically for children would help to protect them by segregate them from adults online, the company claims.

A Senate subcommittee chaired by Sen. Richard Blumenthal will convene a hearing at 10:30 am ET on Thursday to address the findings of Facebook’s unshared internal research. Expected to testify is Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety.

“This hearing will examine the toxic effects of Facebook and Instagram on young people and others, and is one of several that will ask tough questions about whether Big Tech companies are knowingly harming people and concealing that knowledge,” Blumenthal said.

Jaron Lanier: How the Internet Failed and How to Recreate It

On October 29, 2018, Jaron Lanier visited UC Santa Cruz and explored how the internet as it exists today might destroy our world. In developed countries, its arrival has corresponded to bizarre political dysfunction, while in the developing world, ethnic rivalries that had been waning have been re-ignited in the most grotesque fashion. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The internet was supposed to empower people and enrich culture and democracy. What went wrong was based on a simplistic, nerdy philosophy. The solution can be discerned, and it involves creating and strengthening societal structures that are in between giant tech platforms and individuals.

Early Facebook Investor: Social Media “Companies Have Blood on Their Hands” | Amanpour and Company

YouTube has become the latest social media platform to suspend President Trump’s account, saying one of his videos incited violence. The move comes after similar action was taken by Facebook, Twitter, and other tech giants. What responsibility does Silicon Valley bear for last week’s Capitol Hill riot? Roger McNamee was an early investor in Facebook and an adviser to Mark Zuckerberg and now has written a damning article for Wired: “Platforms Must Pay for Their Role in the Insurrection.”

Media Echo Chambers: Ana Kasparian

um and one of the issues is that media
06:12
has become like hyper-specialized
06:14
and so with the way algorithms are set
06:18
up on social media
06:19
you’re exposed to a very specific bias
06:23
based on what you’ve read and what
06:24
you’ve been interested in watching
06:27
those algorithms learn your behavior and
06:29
then they just like continue spitting
06:30
out
06:31
like content that reinforces what you
06:34
already believe so your
06:36
your own views never get challenged
06:39
unless you make a
06:40
real effort uh to listen to perspectives
06:43
that differ from your own
06:44
that’s why even now even though it makes
06:47
me sick every time i do this
06:49
i i make an effort to hear what
06:51
conservatives are saying what are their
06:52
arguments
06:53
and it’s good to know what their
06:54
arguments are because very rarely they
06:57
might have a point but that’s rare
06:59
honestly and you should investigate what
07:01
they’re saying because they might have a
07:02
good point
07:03
but more often than not in the process
07:05
of investigating
07:06
what their claims are you became you
07:09
become better prepared
07:11
to uh support and defend where you stand
07:14
on the issues
07:15
but here’s the thing like most americans
07:17
don’t have time for that and and
07:19
there needs to be a real discussion
07:20
about uh media literacy media
07:23
uh consumption i don’t even know how to
07:26
tackle it at this point uh because there
07:28
are moneyed interests that play a huge
07:29
role in how
07:31
social media operates so i think that’s
07:33
a huge problem
07:34
and yeah i think that there’s like this
07:36
culture on the right of
07:38
owning the libs while they’re really
07:40
just owning themselves they’re finding
07:41
themselves in terrible economic crises
07:44
uh you know they’re seeing their own
07:46
family members die from a virus that
07:48
they did not need to die from
07:50
and it’s all because of you know their
07:53
avid support for someone who does not
07:55
care about them never has and never will
07:58
want to win a free electric scooter
07:59
while our partners at aspiration
08:01
and zoom electric are making it possible
08:04
all you have to do is head to tyt.com