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Facebook Moves To Prevent Advertisers From Targeting Haters

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Facebook Moves To Prevent Advertisers From Targeting Haters

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Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

In the wake of ProPublica’s report Thursday that Facebook advertisers could have directed pitches to almost 2,300 people interested in “Jew hater” and other anti-Semitic topics, the world’s largest social network said it would no longer allow advertisers to target groups identified by self-reported information.

“As people fill in their education or employer on their profile, we have found a small percentage of people who have entered offensive responses,” the company said in a statement. “…We are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to prevent this issue.”

Facebook had already removed the anti-Semitic categories — which also included “How to burn jews” and “History of ‘why jews ruin the world’” — after we asked the company about them earlier this week. Then, after our article was published, Slate reported that Facebook advertisers could target people interested in other topics such as “Kill Muslim Radicals” and “Ku-Klux-Klan.” Facebook’s algorithm automatically transforms people’s self-reported interests, employers and fields of study into advertising categories.

Because audiences in the hateful categories were “incredibly low,” the ad campaigns targeting them reached “an extremely small number of people,” Facebook said. Its statement didn’t identify the advertisers. Conceivably, those who might find it helpful to target anti-Semites could range from recruiters for far-right groups to marketers of Nazi memorabilia.

ProPublica documented that the anti-Semitic ad categories were real by paying $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.

Facebook’s advertising has become a focus of national attention since it disclosed last week that it had discovered $100,000 worth of ads placed during the 2016 presidential election season by “inauthentic” accounts that appeared to be affiliated with Russia.

Like many tech companies, Facebook has long taken a hands-off approach to its advertising business. Unlike traditional media companies that select the audiences they offer advertisers, Facebook generates its ad categories automatically based both on what users explicitly share with Facebook and what they implicitly convey through their online activity.

Traditionally, tech companies have contended that it’s not their role to censor the internet or to discourage legitimate political expression. In the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville by right-wing groups that included self-described Nazis, Facebook and other tech companies vowed to strengthen their monitoring of hate speech.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote at the time that “there is no place for hate in our community,” and pledged to keep a closer eye on hateful posts and threats of violence on Facebook. “It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious,” he wrote.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 17, 2017

    “Traditionally, tech companies have contended that it’s not their role to censor the internet or to discourage legitimate political expression. In the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville by right-wing groups that included self-described Nazis, Facebook and other tech companies vowed to strengthen their monitoring of hate speech.”

    This brief snippet is an example of what happens when we leave the task of defining standards of ethics and morality in the hands of humans who no longer feel a commitment to recognize that an outside Agency, one which transcends the limited and mundane character of human society. Without a common Standard for defining morality—and by that I don’t mean to pay attention to an already corrupted institution of the Clergy’s interpretation of Morality—humans will differ as to what is “Moral”. Facebook and other entities are therefore unable to agree on which way to move forward, and which standards of behavior to live by when developing its product. Other areas of human endeavor face the same moral crisis which Facebook is afflicted by.

    As for the lame excuse of not censoring the Internet, this is an example of a cowardice borne of lack of being inspired and motivated by higher principles of moral behavior. What does this say about our dedication to set an example of good behavior, by simply using a cop-out like “it’s not my responsibility…”? This attitude of “not my responsibility” is a natural outcome of thinking that the individual is capable on her/his own to determine and accurately assess what is moral and what is immoral and reprehensible conduct for a human being. Without a standard, how is it possible for humans as a common entity able to move forward in a united manner when everyone is allowed to set his/her moral compass to point in whatever direction suits their fancy?

    “O SON OF MAN! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.” (from ‘The Hidden Words”, by Baha’u’llah)

    In this one epigram, we see by way of its Author, the inner quality which God has imprinted on each human being on the planet, and elsewhere in the universe. But we on earth have effaced this quality from our hearts, and have chosen to substitute this template with an artificially manufactured one constructed via the hubris of Western notions of superiority of the human mind over a Conscience outside the experience and ken of any human, and have crafted an unwavering belief in our ability to be independent of That which caused creation to come into being from utter Nothingness.

    Reply
  2. johninPCFL September 17, 2017

    Zuckerberg found a way to monetize hate, and then is surprised by the tenor it takes? Greed and hate go hand-in-hand. In both cases there must always be “the other”.

    Reply
    1. CarmenHBrown September 18, 2017

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    2. dbtheonly September 18, 2017

      Flagged the spam for you.

      Not sure Zuckerberg was trying to monetize hate. Perhaps he was as stunned, as I, to see how much hate was out there, seeking only a way to form into communities.

      1. PatriciaJDavidson September 20, 2017

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    3. ChristineCLovell September 20, 2017

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