Facebook Ads Upsetting Parents and Teens

This article is in response to the article “The Facebook Ads Teens Aren’t Supposed to See” published in The Wall Street Journal on February 28, 2014. The article talks about the issue that Facebook is facing regarding targeting ads to its users. The two crucial issues that were pointed out were that users were embellishing there age to setup Facebook accounts and some advertisers were running inappropriate ads targeting these age groups.  I believe this is an opportunity that Facebook could capitalize upon to make itself the best social networking platform.

Facebook’s Mission

According to the company’s 10K report filed on February 01, 2013,  Facebook’s mission is to “make the world more open and connected” (p.7).  Facebook has three types of customers: users, who want to connect with family and friends, developers that want to build applications to enhance user experience and marketers, who would like to reach out to users.

The 10K also highlights how Facebook creates value for their users. It indicates that the company focuses its efforts and resources on developing products that allow users to:

  • Connect and share with friends and families
    • 25% Increase in users (845 million users in 2011 verses 1.06 billion users in 2012)
    • 150 Billion connected with friends in 2012
  • Discover and learn – personalized content for each user to learn about what’s going in the world around them
    • 28% increase in daily active users (483 million in 2011 versus 618 million in 2011)
  • Express Yourself – share and publish opinions, ideas, pictures
    • Users uploaded 350 million pictures daily (average) in 4th

The features that are built into Facebook that helps provide the values to its users are timeline, news feeds, photos, videos and messages (email, chat and text messaging).

The 10K report also highlights how Facebook creates value for developers and marketers. For more information, click here.

Facebook’s Strategy

Their strategy focuses on expanding the reach of Facebook to global markets particularly Brazil, India, Mexico and Japan.  Of the 1.5 billion internet users and 3 billion mobile users, Facebook was successfully able to capture 1.06 billion users in total in 2012.

Building Trust and Maintaining Reputation the Users

The 10K report indicates that Facebook  “dedicate[s] significant resources to the goal of building user trust through developing and implementing programs designed to protect user privacy, promote a safe environment, and assure the security of user data” (p.12).

Users have expressed concern about inappropriate targeting of ads. If Facebook fails to address the issue then it risks losing the trust of its users. Facebook agrees that it is using both manual and automated system to screen ads before they are deployed. In addition, Facebook also allows users to flag ads that are inappropriate. Facebook should pay extra attention when it comes to deploying ads to users below 18 years of age.  In addition, it should air on the side of caution and perform manual inspection on ads targeting users below the age of 18. Also, it should be aware of marketers who are trying to abuse the system by re-registering new accounts once there accounts are deleted for violating Facebook’s terms of service.