Facebook Halts Potential Anti-Semitic Ads Following Report

Facebook moves to prevent advertisers from targeting haters

Facebook moves to prevent advertisers from targeting haters

The news site tested the service and legitimacy of the targeting categories by purchasing $30 worth of advertisements directed towards users interested in the aforementioned subjects.

The report notes that when ProPublica writers attempted to buy ads targeting these groups, they were forced to include several other "categories" as the number of people who had self-identified as interested in these categories was too small for a single ad buy.

This is not the first time Facebook's ad system has come under scrutiny.

Unlike traditional media companies that select the audiences they offer advertisers, Facebook generates its ad categories automatically based both on what users explicitly share with Facebook and what they implicitly convey through their online activity.

The company initially responded to the ProPublica report by removing the topics in question from its ad system. For instance, when ProPublica looked for categories related to "Hitler", the algorithm suggested that it look for "Hitler did nothing wrong" or add "Nazi Party" to increase the size of the audience for the posts. The agency said Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes. These latest ads raise yet another concern about how Facebook's platform can be exploited to embolden hate groups. In the case of ProPublica's findings, advertisers were able to target those that put "Jew hater" as their field of study.

Then, the news organization contacted Facebook, which then removed the anti-Semitic categories.

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Facebook has been forced to amend its ad targeting policies after an investigation by ProPublica found that the social network was permitting advertisers to target individuals with anti-Semitic beliefs.

Reporters took screenshots of the site as they placed the ads. Ultimately, ProPublica's anti-Semite targeted campaign reached almost 6,000 people.

Facebook lets advertisers target people with certain interests on its network.

"There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards". Facebook said it has built new "guardrails" into product-and-review processes to prevent something similar from occurring in the future.

Facebook has a lot "more work to do" indeed, because a follow-up investigation by Slate shows that its algorithm also recognizes "Kill Muslimic Radicals" and "Ku-Klux-Klan" as valid ad categories.

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