- Thomson Reuters
An investigation by the news outlet ProPublica revealing that Facebook’s algorithm enabled advertisers to serve ads to almost 2,300 “Jew haters” has prompted the platform to reexamine its practices.
In a blog post published Thursday, the company said it was removing self-reported targeting fields until it could ensure that targeting wouldn’t be used for discriminatory purposes.
Facebook also said it was enabling advertisers to report inappropriate targeting fields directly in the ads interface or through its Help Center.
“Our community standards strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, and we prohibit advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes,” the company said in the blog post.
The company confirmed ProPublica’s suggestion that the categories in question were automatically generated because some users – what Facebook called a “small percentage of people” – had entered offensive responses in the education and employer sections of their profiles. The fields showed up for ProPublica in its ads interface as targetable audiences for campaigns.
Facebook’s advertising has also been in hot water recently since it revealed that it had discovered that $100,000 worth of ads were placed on its platform during the 2016 presidential election season by “inauthentic” accounts that appeared to be affiliated with Russia.