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Facebook allowed advertisements to target 'Jew haters,' report says

Facebook allowed advertisements to target 'Jew haters,' report says

Facebook let advertisers target antisemitic users and those who express hateful opinions, it has been revealed.

ProPublica said it was able to direct its ads to nearly 2,300 people who expressed interest in certain anti-Semitic categories, but also widened its audience to include those who mentioned the "Schutzstaffel", a paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the "NaziParty". Facebook's ad-placing algorithms automatically turn users' self-declared interests into advertising categories.

All three ads were approved by Facebook within 15 minutes, ProPublica said, adding that the anti-Semitic categories were created by an algorithm and removed when Facebook was made aware.

Prior to the removal, the social network offered advertisers the opportunity to target people based on their education and employer fields - on top of targeting based on age, location, and interests.

Facebook took down the offensive categories after the outlet reached out to them for comment.

Last week, Facebook revealed that during the 2016 election cycle it sold thousands of advertisements to fake accounts likely operated out of Russian Federation.

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

It is quite conceivable that Facebook, with over 2 billion users, has some disgusting people among its users.

Facebook addressed the issue in an interview with Bloomberg, stating that it is "removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue".

One change Facebook said it was considering was adding more thorough reviews of targeting categories before they show up in the self-service platform.

Facebook has over a billion users, and the number of users who used a hate term for their employer or school was comparatively minuscule. In response, Facebook unveiled safeguards that bar ad sales to "fake news" disseminators and downplay stories with misleading clickbait headlines.

"Last week, acting on a tip, we logged into Facebook's automated ad system to see if "Jew hater" was really an ad category", ProPublica said. Next, the Slate dug deeper and found many more offensive and hate topics in auto suggestions that Facebook offered to advertisers.

Considering all these elements, Facebook might soon have to draw a clearer line between not allowing hate speech on and not discriminating groups of people regardless of their thoughts and beliefs.

Photo Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, in April.

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