Starting in February, Facebook and Instagram will no longer allow marketers to target ads by gender of teens: ads can only be targeted by age and location.
In March, Meta will expand ad preferences on Facebook and Instagram to allow teens to see fewer ads for a specific topic. Teens can already hide ads from certain advertisers, but this new feature will also give them the option to automatically downplay all categories like TV shows or shoes.
The social media giant imposes tighter restrictions than ever on content accessible to young people. In 2021, Facebook and Instagram banned advertisers from using teen interests to target ads. Instagram also made accounts private for teens under the age of 16 by default, limiting sensitive content for all new teen users this year. Meta likewise limited the ability of “suspicious” adults to message teens on both platforms.
Facebook will focus on young people to get back to the old days
This is the second major ad policy change in a week. Just a day ago, Meta launched an artificial intelligence-based system aimed at reducing discriminatory ad delivery. The technology is rolling out as part of a deal Facebook made with the federal government over accusations that it allowed companies to target ads based on ethnicity, gender, and other protected classes.
As with previous efforts, Meta has a strong incentive to act. Attorneys general in 10 states are investigating the effects of Instagram on young people, while the EU recently fined Meta the equivalent of $402 million for allegedly misusing young users’ privacy settings. Governments are concerned that Meta may be abusing young people’s use habits or exposing them to threats, including content that may cause mental health problems. The new measures won’t fix these problems on their own, but they may show authorities that Meta is serious about blocking ads that prey on teens.