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Facebook allowed advertisers to target ‘Jew haters’

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Facebook lets advertisers reach people based on various interests, but there’s one audience that raised eyebrows: “Jew haters.”

ProPublica discovered that the social media giant allowed advertisers to target nearly 2,300 people who expressed interest in “Jew haters,” “How to burn Jews,” or the “History of why Jews ruin the world.”

The nonprofit tested these anti-Semitic ad categories by purchasing ads totaling $30 to reach these audiences. Facebook, which is led by a Jewish CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, removed the categories this week after ProPublica contacted the company.

“There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s product management director, told ProPublica. “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.”

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This isn’t the first time the tech firm has faced criticism over the type of ads it runs.

Facebook revealed this month that fake accounts and pages that likely have ties to Russia spent $100,000 in divisive political ads before the U.S. presidential election.

Last year, the tech firm vowed to make changes after ProPublica discovered that it could buy housing ads that exclude users with African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic ethnic affinities in the United States.

So how exactly did these categories end up on Facebook in the first place?

The tech firm pointed the finger of blame at its algorithm.

Facebook’s ad tools automatically generated these categories based on their users’ online activities and what they share.

While Facebook has vowed to crack down on hate speech before, the revelation by ProPublica is yet another reminder that the tech firm still has more work to do.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Tags: ads, Advertising, facebook

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