Facebook recently conducted an investigation into the usage of its advertising tools and according to a recent report from the company, over 1.5 million underage users were flagged for reportedly having interests in gambling and alcohol. According to the company’s report, its advertising tool found that more than 700,000 minors (children under the age of 18) were interested in gambling.

Nearly everyone who keeps tabs on the inner workings of the tech world is aware that social media platforms such as Facebook are notorious for flagging user interest for the purposes of targeted advertising. However, as it turns out, the algorithm that power’s the company’s advertising tool has been flagging minors for targeted ads of gambling and alcohol.

This particular data is automatically generated by Facebook in the form of an “interested in” category. The category is dependent on the activity of the users of the platform. Naturally, advertisers have a lot of interest in this category since they are able to use it to send out target messages to groups of users that have been marked as having interests in particular topics.

Facebook Responds

In light of the investigation into this deeply concerning issue, Facebook responded by saying that they do not allow any form of alcohol or gambling advertisement whatsoever to be displayed to minors. The company’s officials further said that they have always taken the necessary action against any advertisements that violate that policy. In addition to that, the company is reportedly collaborating with both the advertisers as well as regulators in order to ensure that the right path is followed and the potential customers are reached more effectively.

Over the years, many advertisers have exploited the availability of automated interests to advertise to groups they should not be targeting without being in direct violation of Facebook’s rules. This loophole has been quite difficult to mitigate since the advertisers have preselected audiences available. To make it worse, Facebook depends on automated reviews to flag adverts that violate its policies. However, the automated review is usually not completely effective.

Lawsuits Against Violators

To deal with violators, Facebook has been filing lawsuits against them and now the social media platform is looking to take action against The Spinner, a UK-based startup company. The Spinner recently claimed that they have been using social media platforms including Facebook to help gaming operators manipulate gamblers into spending more money in online gambling.

“We are taking enforcement actions against The Spinner and evaluating legal options. We have no tolerance for bad actors that try to circumvent our policies and create bad experiences for people on Facebook,” read statement from Facebook’s spokesperson.

This is definitely something that Facebook has to take very seriously especially because of its recent troubles with regards to privacy.