Meta to stop ads targeting teens based on their gender

11 Jan 2023

Image: © Tada Images/

Over the next couple of months, teenagers on Facebook and Instagram are set to gain more control over the ads they see.

Meta-owned social media platforms Facebook and Instagram will no longer allow advertisers to know the gender of teenagers their ads are targeting.

Age and location of teenagers will be the only information available to advertisers on the platforms, in a bid to make social media safer and more meaningful for teenagers.

“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,” the company wrote in a blogpost yesterday (10 January).

“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.”

Meta, which already does not allow advertisers to target teens based on their interests and activities, said the changes will take effect in February.

It added that the changes reflect research, feedback from parents and child developmental experts, UN children’s rights principles and global regulation.

Meta said that, from March onwards, teenagers using Facebook and Instagram will also have more control over the types of ads they see by changing their preferences in settings.

“Even when an ad complies with our policies, teens may want to see fewer ads like it. For example, if a teen wants to see fewer ads about a genre of TV show or an upcoming sports season, they should be able to tell us that,” Meta wrote in the blogpost.

“Age and location will be the only information about a teen that we’ll use to show them ads. Age and location help us continue to ensure teens see ads that are meant for their age and products and services available where they live.”

Meta has faced criticism from regulators and whistleblowers such as Frances Haugen about how its platforms affect teenagers’ mental health.

When Haugen filed complaints to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 2021, she alleged that Facebook misled investors and the public about its role in “perpetuating misinformation” and its effects on teens and mental health.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic