“We’ll continue to do everything we can to keep hate off Facebook” said a statement released by Facebook on Thursday. Until earlier this week, according to ProPublica, advertisers could target ads to people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’”
After Facebook was made aware of the situation, it removed the anti-Semitic categories. Facebook’s statement continued that “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.”
Despite the number of Facebook users in these anti-Semitic segments being low, Facebook was receiving a significant amount of negative press and decided to manually remove the targeting options. While advertisers most certainly enjoy taking advantage of Facebook Ads’ endless targeting options, it made sense for Facebook to remove these very offensive categories until it can figure out how to tweak its algorithm and automatically prevent these targeting options from showing up.
This isn’t the first instance in recent weeks where Facebook’s self serve ad platform has been scrutinized. Facebook announced two weeks ago that “approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017” was bought by accounts and Pages that were operated out of Russia and trying to influence the US presidential election.