Home / Technology / Fearing Anti-Semitic Speech, Facebook Limits Audience Targeting

Fearing Anti-Semitic Speech, Facebook Limits Audience Targeting


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, in April. A report by ProPublica said the social network’s self-service ad-buying system let advertisers seek out self-described “Jew haters.” Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Facebook has said it will restrict how advertisers target their audiences on the social network after a report said some were able to seek out self-described “Jew haters.”

In a statement dated Thursday, the company also said it would prevent users from indicating what type of ads they would like to see in an attempt to curb hate speech, adding that it had “no place on our platform.”

The moves came in response to a ProPublica investigation that revealed that Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform allowed advertisers to direct ads to the newsfeeds of about 2,300 users who said they were interested in anti-Semitic subjects.

Reporters from ProPublica tested Facebook advertising categories to see whether they could buy ads aimed at Facebook users who expressed interest in topics like “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” and “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” The reporters paid $ 30 to ensure groups affiliated with these anti-Semitic categories saw promoted ProPublica posts in their Facebook news feeds.

Facebook approved the posts within 15 minutes, according to the ProPublica investigation.

The social network said Friday that its community standards “strictly prohibit attacking people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, and we prohibit advertisers from discriminating against people based on religion and other attributes.”

Facebook added that “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.”

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