Sunday 13 November 2016

Facebook To Crack Down Adverts Which Includes Ethnic Minorities


Facebook has cracked down on its advertisers targeting users by race after concerns it was being used to discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Responding to widespread criticism of the social network allowing businesses to target certain racial groups, Facebook said it would block adverts for housing, jobs and lending from doing so.

The company had been hit with lawsuits claiming it violated anti-discrimination laws and been slammed by politicians over the matter.

While Facebook does not ask users for their race, it does assign them “ethnic affinities” such as Hispanic and African American which are based on the pages and posts they have liked or commented on. A page on ethnic affinity says that this can make marketing more effective, for example by targeting adverts for Spanish language television shows at Hispanic users.

The company had defended the practice, saying it allows advertisers to reach diverse communities, but it also sparked fears that landlords or employees would use the tool to segregate people by excluding certain groups.


Investigators at Pro Publica were able to purchase a housing advert that would not be shown to users with certain ethnic affinities despite this being against Facebook’s policies, sparking a backlash against the company.

The option also faced criticism earlier this year when it emerged that Universal Studios had shown two different versions of the trailer for the film Straight Outta Compton to white and black audiences.

On Friday, Facebook said it would automatically disable ethnic affinity marketing for housing, employment and credit and make its advertising policies clearer.

“We take these issues seriously. Discriminatory advertising has no place on Facebook,” it said.

It added that it would “continue to explore ways that our ethnic affinity solution can be used to promote inclusion of underrepresented communities” and said company officials had held meetings with Congressmen who had attacked its targeting as well as civil rights groups.



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