Facebook to ban 5000 targeting terms in discrimination crackdown

By AdNews | 23 August 2018

Facebook is ditching more than 5000 options that allow advertisers to target users’ religious beliefs, culture or race in an effort to prevent discriminatory advertising.

Although Facebook wouldn’t disclose the list of terms it is banning, it said it would remove targeting terms that relate to religion and ethnicity.

In April, Facebook revealed it would remove thousands of terms that can exclude users based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion.

In the US, there have been examples of advertisers removing ethnic minorities when it comes to advertising housing and other products and services.

However, advertisers can still create audiences on Ads Manager based on whether a user is interested in a religion, ethnicity and other attributes that can be used to discriminate against minorities. AdNews recently learnt that Facebook's interests are not always accurate.

Facebook targetingFacebook allows advertisers to target users on a wide range of interests.

This feature can be used by groups to spread hate speech and discriminatory messaging to fuel propaganda against minorities. An example can be found in Myanmar, where Facebook has been used by Buddhist nationalists to spread propaganda and persecute the Rohingya.

“While these (targeting) options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimising the risk of abuse is more important,” Facebook said in a blog.

“This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

The changes will roll out in the US before markets abroad.

Earlier this week, AdNews revealed that Facebook continues to reach 1.85 million more 15-39 year-olds than exists in Australia.

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