World

Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites'

Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites'

With all the data that comes from 2 billion+ monthly users, Facebook can let advertisers target people based on virtually any characteristic.

ProPublica tested the claims by buying $30 worth of targeted ad space in the anti-Semitic categories.

"We don't allow hate speech on Facebook", Facebook project management director Rob Leathern said in a statement.

As Facebook has given advertisers greater power to micro-target their messages using a self-service platform, the company has at times failed to ensure they comply with its terms and conditions.

The company explained that the categories were generated by a small percentage of people entering offensive responses in the education and employer sections of their profiles. Once ProPublica informed Facebook of these categories, it took them down. The news website also found that after it reported the matter to Facebook, the hate topics were removed. And, because of Facebook's access to that data, it has made an huge sum of money selling ads to advertisers who want to reach not only 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States, but 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States who are in a new relationship and also in the military.

The nasty ad targeting was uncovered by ProPublica, a "nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force".

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"I think what we've seen so far from Facebook is only the tip of the iceberg", Warner said. As such, "we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue".

First to publish its report was ProPublica that found that advertisers on Facebook could target people who hate Jews. The ads were approved within 15 minutes.

Facebook removed the categories after ProPublica contacted the social media network and said it would work to fix the problem.

Facebook said it was cooperating with related federal investigations in the US. There were so few potential viewers that Facebook automatically suggested that ProPublica add related interest groups, including "German Schutzstaffel", more commonly known as the Nazi SS; and "Nazi Party".

"We won't always be ideal, but you have my commitment that we'll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe", Mr Zuckerberg wrote.

This is another embarrassment for world's largest social media platform as it struggles with how not to be exploited by insidious people or groups and still stick to the task of what Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's likes to say as "connecting the world".


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