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Facebook Allowed Advertisers To Direct Their Ads to 'Jew Haters'

15 September 2017

It said the entire process was approved within 15 minutes.

The world's largest social network is reviewing its ad policies after an investigation published by ProPublica on Thursday revealed marketers could specifically target their ads to reach anti-Semites.

ProPublica says that since they contacted Facebook about the anti-Semitic ad categories, majority have disappeared.

"We don't allow hate speech on Facebook", said Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook in a statement emailed to The Hill. "In this case, we've removed the associated targeting fields in question". Last week, the company disclosed it sold $100,000 worth of ads to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russian Federation during the election.

The publication found that Facebook's advertising portal contained a number of anti-Semitic categories ad-buyers could use to help target their ads on Facebook.

Facebook's targeting doesn't technically allow advertisers to specify minorities in targeting groups, but it has ethnic affinities, meaning the people are likely to identify or share interests with a certain group. Ultimately, ProPublica's anti-Semite targeted campaign reached almost 6,000 people.

The problem occurred because people were listing "jew hater" and the like in their "field of study" category, which is of course a good one for guessing what a person might be interested in: meteorology, social sciences, etc.

But as hard as it might be for an algorithm to determine the difference between "History of Judaism" and "History of 'why jews ruin the world, ' " it really does seem incumbent on Facebook to make sure the algorithm does make that determination.

Facebook appears to be having something of a public-relations crisis. So we added "German Schutzstaffel", commonly known as the Nazi SS, and the "Nazi Party", which were both described to advertisers as groups of "employers".

The far-right National Democratic Party of Germany included a far larger potential viewership of almost 200,000 Facebook user accounts.

Once we had our audience, we submitted our ad - which promoted an unrelated ProPublica news article.

The outlet purchased $30 worth of ads targeting the mentioned categories to test the feature.

They found the category, but because there were only 2,274 people in it, it was considered too small for them to be able to buy an ad targeted at only Jew haters.

A few days later, Facebook sent us the results of our campaigns.

The ads eventually reached 5,897 people, generating 101 clicks and 13 "engagements" (like a "like" or a comment).

In its report, ProPublica noted that the objectionable ad categories were very small. Facebook didn't have them.

Facebook Allowed Advertisers To Direct Their Ads to 'Jew Haters'