In advising ProPublica on whom to add in order to reach enough users to justify an ad, Facebook's automated system recommended "Second Amendment", apparently correlating gun rights advocates with anti-Semites.
Facebook's role in politics was under scrutiny again last night after it was exposed as allowing advertisers to target people who expressed interest in antisemitic themes including "Hitler did nothing wrong". The media outlet added that its test exposed that such anti-Semitic targeting could happen, although it was not clear if it was actually occurring. "Our 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", Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook, told the Hive in a statement.
The network automatically generates demographic categories that advertisers can choose to target based on information in user profiles. Users can enter whatever they went on their profile under categories like field of study, school, job title or company. At the very least, when categories are potentially sensitive, dealing with personal data like religion, politics, and sexuality, one would think they would be verified by humans before being offered up to would-be advertisers.
Reporters took screenshots of the site as they placed the ads. He said that they have removed the targeting fields in question.
Pakistan celebrate return of global cricket with memorable win over World XI
His and Pakistan's only hundred in a Twenty20 worldwide had come against Bangladesh during the World Twenty20 tournament in 2014. Came to chase down the total, World XI never looked in the contention as they lost their batsmen at regular intervals.
This wasn't the first time that Pro Publica found disconcerting ad targeting possibilities on Facebook. Facebook said that the categories were created algorithmically, rather than by people, and the company would be looking at ways to stop its algorithms from going full Nazi in the future.
"We are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue", the company said. It technically isn't just Facebook, anyone can try to buy keywords to target Jew Haters on Google - well, maybe.
Facebook's targeted advertising feature allows advertisers to focus on specific groups of people that are more likely to be interested in their products or services. It should be said that these categories were tiny, at least in Facebook terms.
A 2013 post from the company specifically names Jewish people as a group frequently targeted by threats and hate speech on the platform.