Facebook Let Its Advertisers Target "Jew Haters"

AP  REX  Shutterstock Facebook logo is displayed in a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F in Paris Facebook Paris France- 17 Jan 2017

Facebook Let Its Advertisers Target “Jew Haters”

The categories were available to advertisers buying ads through the firm's self-service function, and journalists were able to use the system to target almost 2,300 users who had previously searched by such terms and phrases.

It's common knowledge that advertisers can find niche target audiences on Facebook, but a recent investigation found some of those advertisers could use hate speech terms including "Jew Hater" to reach people with beliefs most of us would find unsavory.

Such is the lesson Facebook is learning after it recently made headlines for allowing brand managers to target users based on anti-Semitic phrases. "However, there are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards".

To ensure that such things don't come up in the future, the company said it plans to make the screening process tougher for categories before they are added in the self-service platform. At the very least, when categories are potentially sensitive, dealing with personal data like religion, politics, and sexuality, one would think they would be verified by humans before being offered up to would-be advertisers.

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Last week, Facebook disclosed that it had discovered $100,000 worth of ads placed during the 2016 presidential election had been put there by "inauthentic" accounts that appeared to be affiliated with Russian Federation.

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

An employee told ProPublica that the worrisome targeting categories were rarely used and a spokesperson said that they have been removed.

Facebook has since removed the offending categories. Facebook offers different targeting options, like location, and age, and interests.

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This is a big deal because it could shape the styles of content created for Facebook Watch, the new original programming hub its launched where publishers earn 55% of ad revenue. But Facebook's algorithms had suggestions to boost the audience size, including to people who like gun rights. Next, the Slate dug deeper and found many more offensive and hate topics in auto suggestions that Facebook offered to advertisers.

Facebook's targeting doesn't technically allow advertisers to specify minorities in targeting groups, but it has ethnic affinities, meaning the people are likely to identify or share interests with a certain group.

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.

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