Following criticism, Facebook has announced the removal of 5,000 ad targeting categories that made it possible to discriminate against individuals based on ethnicity and similar things. Facebook has previously been called out about these ad targeting options, which critics say have been used to discriminate based on race.
Earlier this year, Facebook said it was addressing the issue of “misuse” on its advertisement platform by adding an anti-discrimination prompt to its tools, limiting exclusion targeting, and more. The company has taken a bigger step today, saying that it is removing more than 5,000 targeting options to prevent the abuse.
“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service,” Facebook said in its announcement, “we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important.” Among the targeting options that will be removed include user attributes like religion and ethnicity.
At the heart of the matter is advertisement targeting, which enables advertisers to target a specific audience. This helps the company avoiding wasting money on ads that are presented to people who aren’t relevant to the topic or product, but opens a door for discrimination. Given the right targeting options, advertisers can, for example, avoid showing housing ads to certain groups of people.
In addition to removing the ad targeting options, Facebook plans to require its advertisers to certify that their ads are in line with Facebook’s non-discrimination policy. This requirement will apply to companies that Facebook says are taking out employment, housing, and credit ads.