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Facebook Removes 5,000 Targeting Options

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In April, Facebook shared that it sought to improve its ad platform following alleged misuse that involved discrimination. The company has recently announced updates to its ad targeting tools designed to defend people against such discrimination.

Facebook has removed more than 5,000 targeting options, including limiting an advertiser’s ability to eliminate audiences based on factors like ethnicity or religion. According to Facebook:

Facebook’s Advertising Policies prohibit advertisers from using our ads products to discriminate against individuals or groups of people. Ads are discriminatory when they deny opportunities to individuals or groups of people based on…race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family/marital status, disability or medical or genetic condition.

The changes come following a housing discrimination complaint filed against the company earlier this month by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The complaint asserts that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act by permitting landlords and home sellers to utilize Facebook’s ad platform to engage in housing discrimination.

According to a release from HUD.gov:

HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of ‘targeted advertising.’

All US advertisers will also now be required to complete a certification within the Ads Manager Tool that confirms compliance with the company’s nondiscrimination policy. The certification aims to educate and emphasize the difference between fair ad targeting and ads that discriminate.

Advertisers can still utilize ads that target audiences based on known interests that coincide with any products or services offered by a company. Facebook’s advertising principles emphasize its commitment to being a “safe and civil” advertising platform. The company said it plans to release more targeting updates in the near future.

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