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

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

ProPublica was told that as the number of people who fall into the groups was so small - 2300 users in the "Jew Hater" section - it needed to add more categories to purchase ads.

The news outlet subsequently contacted a red-faced Facebook, which blamed an algorithm for creating the anti-Semitic categories, which were then removed.

"ProPublica surfaced that these offensive education and employer fields were showing up in our ads interface as targetable audiences for campaigns", the post went on to say.

As Facebook has given advertisers greater power to micro-target their messages using a self-service platform, the company has at times failed to ensure they comply with its terms and conditions. Facebook said it has built new "guardrails" into product-and-review processes to prevent something similar from occurring in the future.

ProPublica notes that, in a past investigation, it managed to collect tens of thousands of ad categories and that none of them were racist or anti-Semitic in a straightforward manner.

In the United Kingdom, a series of Conservative party attack ads were also sent to voters in a key marginal constituency, and activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts, the Guardian reported in May. Last month, Facebook told federal investigators that it sold about $100,000 in political ads during the 2016 election season to "inauthentic" accounts, likely affiliated with and operated in Russian Federation.

Thus, for each category like, for example, "burning Jews", Google suggests several keywords, including "burnt Jews", "did they burn Jews", etc.

Other categories that appeared in Facebook's autocomplete tool were, "Kill Muslimic Radicals", "Killing Haji", "Ku-Klux-Klan", "Jew Killing Weekly Magazine" and "The school of fagget murder & assassination".

While accepting some blame for carelessly catering to anti-Semites, Facebook does take issue with ProPublica attributing the hateful ad categories to an "algorithm". In response, Facebook unveiled safeguards that bar ad sales to "fake news" disseminators and downplay stories with misleading clickbait headlines. Facebook approved all three ads in 15 minutes. "In this case, we've removed the associated targeting fields in question", he said.

The ProPublica researchers found the anti-Jewish categories while conducting a larger investigation into the way Facebook targets adverts at users. Particularly in the wake of events at Charlottesville last month -after which Mark Zuckerberg made an anti-hate statement- the online juggernaut must hold itself to account.

"We won't always be ideal, but you have my commitment that we'll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe", Mr Zuckerberg wrote.


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