Twitter, Google Allowed Racist Ad Campaigns to Go Live, Too

Google offered suggestions to run ads against searches like “the evil jew”

Last Updated: September 15, 2017 @ 4:24 PM

Facebook isn’t the only social media platform that’s under fire for approving racist advertisements.

Google — the world’s largest ad platform — allowed advertisers to target users based on anti-Jewish and anti-black search results, according to a BuzzFeed report. The ad system not only approved racist ads to go live, but made recommendations; typing “why do Jews ruin everything” would summon a Google suggestion to run ads against searches like “the evil jew” and “jewish control of banks.”

The ads were pulled by Google after BuzzFeed’s ad campaign went live on Friday. Google deactivated keywords in the ad campaign, minus one: “blacks destroy everything.”

“Our goal is to prevent our keyword suggestions tool from making offensive suggestions, and to stop any offensive ads appearing,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google Senior VP of Advertising, told BuzzFeed News. “We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected. In this instance, ads didn’t run against the vast majority of these keywords, but we didn’t catch all these offensive suggestions. That’s not good enough and we’re not making excuses.”

Twitter didn’t escape unscathed, either.

Its ad platform told The Daily Beast there were tens of millions of users interested in terms like “wetback,” “Nazi,” and “n—-r,” and allowed the outlet to launch ad campaigns against the terms. Twitter’s ad service lets its clients target any keyword, and gives audience data on its phrases. “Nazi,” for example, pulled up 18.6 million “engaged” accounts. (This doesn’t work for two word phrases, however.)

A Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap the phrases shouldn’t have been able to go live on its ad platform.

“The terms cited in this story have been blacklisted for several years and we are looking into why the campaign cited in this story were able to run for a very short period of time,” a Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap. “Twitter actively prohibits and prevents any offensive ads from appearing on our platform, and we are committed to understanding 1) why this happened, and 2) how to keep it from happening again.”

The Twitter and Google news comes on the heels of Facebook’s ad platform allowing clients to target 2,300 users with self-reported interest in terms like “jew hater,” and “how to burn jews.” Facebook terminated the ad campaigns after ProPublica shed light on the racist terms being approved by its ad platform. The social network updated its ad targeting service on Friday, curtailing inflammatory ad fields.

“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 the post.