Facebook let advertisers target users via antisemitic terms like 'Jew hater'

Facebook let advertisers target users via antisemitic terms like 'Jew hater'

An investigation by ProPublica released Thursday found that it was possible to reach white supremacists or people promoting anti-Semitic beliefs by paying a small amount of money to find people interested in categories such as "Jew hater", "How to burn jews", and "History of 'why jews ruin the world'".

The three adverts it prepared, which advertised ProPublica's work, were approved and posted to the news feeds of the people who had revealed they were interested in the right-wing topics.

Reporters for Pro Publica wrote that they had been able to select "Jew haters" as a group to target with ads on Facebook. A ProPublica investigation has found that Facebook has virtually no limits on what kind of groups you can target ads at, including out-and-out anti-Semites.

Facebook is also enabling advertisers to report any inappropriate targeting fields directly in the ads interface or through its Help Center.

"We are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue", the company said.

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"We don't allow hate speech on Facebook", said Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook in a statement emailed to The Hill.

Facebook's ad business has become a hot-button topic.

Following the first revelation made by the group ProPublica, the website Slate chose to test the system in a similar way, typing phrases like "Kill Muslimic Radicals" and "Ku-Klux-Klan" in the search engine.

"I think what we've seen so far from Facebook is only the tip of the iceberg", Warner said. ProPublica was unable to find analogous ad categories of different religions. Facebook approved all three ads in 15 minutes.

Facebook is under fire for enabling advertisers to actively reach anti-Semitic accounts.

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And the company said last week an operation likely based in Russian Federation spent $100,000 (£75,000) on thousands of USA ads promoting political messages over a two-year period, fuelling concerns about foreign meddling in United States elections.

Facebook has over a billion users, and the number of users who used a hate term for their employer or school was comparatively minuscule. Both the social network and the advertising platform will have to deal with this more head-on going forward.

However, he said, there were times when information appeared on Facebook that violated its standards.

Facebook issued a full statement on the matter, which claims "hate speech and discriminatory advertising have no place on our platform" and that "community safety is "critical to our mission".

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