Facebook Will Be Allowed To Sell Smoking And Gambling To Kids

By Doug Norrie | 2 weeks ago


Hey kids, any of you out there feeling a little bored right now? Don’t know how to pass the time or looking for a potential new hobby? Well, good news. Facebook now has some ads geared directly toward you with some interesting things to look into. Those include smoking, alcohol, and weight loss, three pastimes that just scream “kids” when I really think about it. But according to The Guardian, that’s exactly the case with the social media giant (is that too small a word?) now allowing those options for pages that are specifically geared to teenagers. Hey, smoke’em if you got’em teens. 

This latest report about how Facebook is handling its advertisements and what options it’s giving publishers and others groups came in the form of a mini-sting operation around the social media platform. Reset Australia, an advocacy and research group, set up a page and advertising account on the site, and went through the process of making sure it appeared totally geared towards teens. When things got really interesting was when they started refining some of their advertisement needs and goals. 

Apparently, Reset Australia went about picking their advertisement targets based on age and interest. It was here that Facebook gave them the option to put out ads on the page that would target kids (13-year-olds) who were interested in alcohol, smoking, vaping, weight loss, and gambling. You know, all the things an impressionable mind might want to try out on a lark. This advertising option had significant reach as well with the audience apparently spanning rely 700,000 potential Facebook users in this demographic. This wasn’t small potatoes, there were potentially a lot of eyes about to see these. 


The Facebook advertising rates varied depending on vice with some of the targeted interests being as cheap as a couple of dollars and others ranging into the hundreds. It depended if you wanted to get the kids hooked on the booze or the smoke. Some things cost more than others. But of course, regardless of the price, it’s an alarming find that it would be relatively easy to get decidedly non-kid-friendly products easily in front of his on the app. 

Apparently in this operation, the group was able to determine that Facebook does use age to begin limiting exposure to certain products, but some of those safeguards are undone depending on other parts of the users’ profile. In this way, interests or say, marital status, might end up trumping the advertising regulations in place for certain ages. 

With Facebook and Instagram continuing to make market plays for younger and younger demographics, it isn’t exactly encouraging to find out that literally any advertiser potentially can bypass rather loose protocols and systems around age-based products. It will be interesting to see how Facebook responds to the ease with which this group was able to target teens with a variety of adult products. For the time being, looks like teens can crack a cold one, grab a smoke and start looking through their timeline.