Facebook disables ethnicity ad targeting system
Facebook has disabled a controversial system that lets advertisers choose which ethnic groups to target. The feature was recently abused – as a test, it is worth pointing out – by news group ProPublica, which discovered that it could post discriminatory adverts on the social media platform that were not shown to people of certain racial backgrounds. Facebook responded immediately, saying it would look for a way to make the system impervious to “inappropriate” use.
Facebook’s share price is up by 54% so far this year
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
U.S. laws prohibit some of the discrimination that ProPublica was able to demonstrate on Facebook. A clear – and, sadly, once common – example might be housing adverts. It is possible, on Facebook, to place ads for properties which simply don’t show up to African American or Jewish (or, for that matter, any other specified ethnicity) users.
Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg said the system had been turned off, and that the company would look into how these tools were being used in respect of “potentially sensitive segments” but she also defended Facebook’s right to target ads to specific “multicultural affinity segments”. This is a common practice in media, as is demonstrated by any number of black or Asian publications.
Ami Vora, vice president of product management at Facebook issued an apology: “We’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments. Our systems continue to improve, but we can do better.”
Dominion holds Facebook in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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