Facebook Updates Tool That Allowed Advertisers to Target Anti-Semitic Categories

Social network deactivates self-reported ad fields that gave clients options to target “jew hater” and other racist descriptions

Last Updated: September 15, 2017 @ 11:35 AM

Facebook is updating its ad targeting service once again, after ProPublica reported that advertisers could aim their content at more than 2,000 anti-Semitic users.

Businesses were able to target ads at Facebook users with self-reported details like “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.'” Following this finding, the social network updated its ad fields on Thursday, removing the self-reported options that allowed advertisers to target crude and racist users.

“Keeping our community safe is critical to our mission. And to help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes, we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue,” said Facebook, in a blog post. “We want Facebook to be a safe place for people and businesses, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to keep hate off Facebook.”

“ProPublica surfaced that these offensive education and employer fields were showing up in our ads interface as targetable audiences for campaigns,” the post went on to say. “We immediately removed them.”

Facebook will also allow advertisers to report offensive targeting options it finds.

Social media advertisers were able to target 2,300 users that had shown interest in anti-Semitic themes up until this week, when ProPublica shed light on the matter. The news site paid $30 to promote posts through anti-Semitic fields, which were approved in less than 15 minutes by Facebook.

It was another black eye to Facebook’s advertising business, which has been under fire recently. The company revealed Russia-linked “inauthentic accounts” bought $100,000 worth of ads between June 2015 and May 2017 — months after Time reported Russian profiles were spreading fake news during the 2016 election.