Facebook’s Ad-service Allows You to Target Racist Audience

Krishanu Dutta

Facebook’s ad-service has been accused of enabling advertisers to reach a specific audience of around 2,300 people who would express anti-semitic interests such as “Jew hater,” “How to burn Jews,” or “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world'”.

According to a ProPublica report, Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform allowed them to target Facebook users who would type in the above-mentioned words or phrases as categories of interest with three promoted posts. Facebook approved all three of the posts within 15 minutes.

ProPublica informed Facebook about the situation and asked them to take such hateful advertisement categories down, which it did.

Such categories are not picked by humans rather it’s created by an algorithm and Facebook has admitted that it does go out of the line quite often.

We know we have more work to do.

— Rob Leathern, Product Management Director at Facebook.

“There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards. In this case, we’ve removed the associated targeting fields in question. We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future,” said Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook.

Facebook On Its Toes

On Friday, Facebook announced on its newsroom page that they are removing such hateful self-reported targeting fields to help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes until they have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue.


This is not the first time Facebook has received criticism for its ad-service. Earlier this year, another ProPublica report showed that Facebook collects information about you from various offline commercial data brokers like Datalogix (Oracle Data Cloud), Epsilon, Acxiom, Experian, and Quantium.

The crowdsourced data revealed that offline data includes categories like your gender, location, favorite restaurants, what all you purchase at the supermarket, how much do you earn as well as how much do you owe and much more information about you in a total of 52,235 categories.

In their privacy policy, Facebook has clearly mentioned that it tracks users’ behavior to serve them ads better tailored to their choice of interest.

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Krishanu Dutta

Written By

Krishanu Dutta

A proud grammar Nazi, Krishanu swears by his love of books and football. A black coffee-addict, he keeps his sugar intake low and the quality of tech content high.