Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at 'Jew haters'

  • Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at 'Jew haters'

Facebook allowed adverts to be targeted at 'Jew haters'

Most of Facebook's ads are placed through an automated system that allows marketers to select who they'd like to reach. Usually that's not a problem, but ProPublica found that Facebook had generated anti-Semitic categories such as "Jew Hater" and "Hitler did nothing wrong," which could be targeted for advertising purposes.

The news outlet subsequently contacted a red-faced Facebook, which blamed an algorithm for creating the anti-Semitic categories, which were then removed. Since the algorithm handles ad purchases from start to finish with no human input, ProPublica was able to get the anti-Semitic ads it purchased for its investigation approved within 15 minutes.

Facebook product management director Rob Leathern issued a statement saying that content that violates their standards would often come up on the site.

Prior to the removal, the social network offered advertisers the opportunity to target people based on their education and employer fields - on top of targeting based on age, location, and interests.

While those ads didn't prop up any specific candidate, they focused on polarizing social issues, including gay rights, immigration and race, Facebook's chief security officer said in a post. And, because of Facebook's access to that data, it has made an enormous sum of money selling ads to advertisers who want to reach not only 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S., but 18- to 34-year-olds in the USA who are in a new relationship and also in the military. The company added that it would explore ways to prevent similarly offensive ad targeting categories from appearing in the future.

The social media giant said it would continue working to improve its processes and was restricting parts of its ad targeting fields while a review took place.

"I think what we've seen so far from Facebook is only the tip of the iceberg", Warner said. These two groups had a combined audience of nearly 6000 users.

In response, Facebook said its ad-buying system is not flawless.

Facebook automatically recommended adding related categories such as "Nazi Party" and "German Schutzstaffel" to reach more people. Facebook was also recently criticized for allowing hate groups like neo-Nazis to thrive on its platform.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg wrote at the time that "there is no place for hate in our community", and pledged to keep a closer eye on hateful posts and threats of violence on Facebook.