Facebook accused of helping advertisers target vulnerable teens

Leaked documents of an internal report by Facebook executives indicate the social network helps advertisers target teenagers who feel "worthless", "overwhelmed" and a "failure".

The documents, which were marked "Confidential: Internal Only", were seen by The Australian.

According to the article, the report was prepared by two of Facebook's Australian executives, David Fernandez and Andy Sinn, and outlined how the social network can target "moments when young people need a confidence boost". 

When contacted by The Australian, Facebook issued an apology, and said it had opened an investigation, admitting it was wrong to target young children in this way.

However, by Monday, Facebook released a second statement that denied the truth of The Australian's article, reported The Guardian. In the statement, Facebook described the newspaper article as "misleading", claiming that the company does not "offer tools to target people based on their emotional state".

The statement went on to say that the report was based on research by Facebook that was shared with advertisers but was intended to "help marketers understand how people express themselves".

The Guardian further reported having seen an internal memo by a Facebook Australian executive which dismissed the report and criticised the article as "inflammatory". 

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