Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Strategic Communication: Public Relations and Advertising

First Advisor

Dr. Abbey Levenshus


This thesis examines how relevant parties position the ethics of online demographic-based targeting to vulnerable populations. Relevant parties fell into four categories: professional organizations, government organizations, major platforms, and activist groups. As advertising technology has rapidly evolved, relevant parties are in a unique position to shape the ethics of new technologies like demographic-based targeting. Statements from relevant parties were collected and a thematic analysis was conducted to determine the varying stances taken by each relevant party. Five stances emerged from this analysis representing how relevant parties positioned the issue: supports non-discriminatory demographic-based targeting, supports consensual demographic-based targeting, supports legal demographic-based targeting, neutral stance, and opposes demographic-based targeting. The findings illustrated a need for an expanded ethical framework, a comprehensive definition of vulnerable populations, and a need for relevant parties to take responsibility for regulation.