Facebook apologizes for anti-Semitic ad targeting

The social media giant apologizes after a report revealed that anti-Semitic ad words can be used as advertising criteria.

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Tzvi Lev,

The Facebook logo at an innovation hub in Berlin, Germany.
The Facebook logo at an innovation hub in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Facebook has apologized after a recent report revealed that the social media giant enabled anti-Semitic terms to be used as advertising keywords.

"Hate has no place on Facebook — and as a Jew, as a mother, and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote on her page. "The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate and a fail on our part. We removed them and when that was not totally effective, we disabled that targeting section in our ad systems.”

A report two weeks ago on ProPublica revealed that the social media titan permitted advertisers to target their audience using anti-Semitic terms, such as "Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” and “history of why Jews ruin the world".

According to ProPublica, "we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes."

Facebook immediate banned the terms after the expose and blamed a faulty algorithm for the anti-Semitic keywords.

Sandberg vowed to implement far-reaching changes that would prevent the mishap from reoccurring. "We are announcing that we are strengthening our ads targeting policies and tools," she wrote. "We are clarifying our advertising policies and tightening our enforcement processes to ensure that content that goes against our community standards cannot be used to target ads."

"This includes anything that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or disabilities or diseases. Such targeting has always been in violation of our policies and we are taking more steps to enforce that now."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised Facebook's response to the revelations. “We spoke to Facebook last week to understand what happened and asked for detailed steps they'd take to prevent this sort of hateful ad-targeting," said CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“We are glad that they are taking immediate, meaningful action, and ADL will continue to hold tech companies accountable for following through on these actions.”








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