Meta restricts advertisers’ access to teenagers’ data on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are to tighten restrictions around the data available to firms to target ads at teenage users, the platforms’ parent company Meta has said.

From February, advertisers will no longer be able see a user’s gender or the type of posts they have engaged with as a way of targeting adverts to them.

Under the enhanced restrictions, only a user’s age and location will be used to show them advertising, Meta said.

The social media giant also confirmed that new controls will be introduced in March enabling teenagers to go into the settings in both apps and choose to “see less” of certain types of adverts.

Many online safety campaigners say social media platforms need to do more to control the types of advertising shown to younger users, warning that inappropriate ads can cause as much harm as offensive or abusive content posted by others.

Meta has previously added restrictions that stop advertisers from targeting teenagers with adverts based on their interests and activities, and the company said the latest updates came in response to research on the issue, direct feedback from experts and global regulation.

“As part of our continued work to keep our apps age-appropriate for teens, we’re making further changes to their ad experiences,” Meta said in a blog post.

“We recognise that teens aren’t necessarily as equipped as adults to make decisions about how their online data is used for advertising, particularly when it comes to showing them products available to purchase.

“For that reason, we’re further restricting the options advertisers have to reach teens, as well as the information we use to show ads to teens.”