Google Also Allows Advertisers To Reach Jew Haters

Posted September 16, 2017

Facebook will no longer help advertisers target users who had described themselves as anti-Semitic. Among the available subgroups were users who expressed interest in topics like "Jew haters" and "How to burn Jews", ProPublica found.

Facebook insisted ad campaigns using anti-Semitic categories on Facebook were not widespread. Facebook said that the fields that showed up for ProPublica in its ads interface as targetable audiences for campaigns were because of these rogue employer and education sections.

In a statement, Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook, said the company was working to create "guardrails" that would prevent this from happening in the future.

"There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards", said Leathern.

But Facebook said that the posts were possible because a "small percentage" of users put "offensive responses" in their profiles' education or employer fields. The ads had spread divisive views on topics such as immigration, race and LGBT rights and had promoted 470 "inauthentic" pages and accounts later suspended by Facebook, according to the company.

The news of these segments comes in the midst of Facebook's other ad controversy, which saw the company receive over US$100 000 from Russian ads during the 2016 U.S. election. They, too, were lumped into targeting categories.

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Other categories that appeared in Facebook's autocomplete tool were, "Kill Muslimic Radicals", "Killing Haji", "Ku-Klux-Klan", "Jew Killing Weekly Magazine" and "The school of fagget murder & assassination".

Facebook's "removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue".

This is not the first time Facebook's ad system has come under scrutiny.

Facebook's automated system suggested "Second Amendment" as an additional category that would boost our audience size to 119,000 people, presumably because its system had correlated gun enthusiasts with anti-Semites.

Considering all these elements, Facebook might soon have to draw a clearer line between not allowing hate speech on and not discriminating groups of people regardless of their thoughts and beliefs.

Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was hiring about 3,000 people to combat the problem of harmful content on the popular site, including shutting down hate speech and child exploitation.