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The dark side of targeted advertising?

Published on Wednesday, 16th August 2017, contributed by Foot Anstey

By Alexandra Leonidou, senior associate at Foot Anstey.

Facebook's data practices are in the spotlight again. Some really tough questions being asked about the ethics of data analytics (i.e. Facebook's analysis of our online activity) and the subsequent use of the data that Facebook derives. 

Is it ok to profile teens based on their online activity and 'segment' or categorise them based on the assumptions that your algorithm makes about their mental health? Is it then ok to use that derived information to deliver adverts to those teens? 

"Profiling" as an activity becomes a lot more challenging under GDPR, which takes effect in just over a year. However, this feels like one that goes above and beyond the granularities of any Regulation. There is a 'bigger picture' ethical discussion to be had here - for Facebook and for society at large.