Facebook to remove thousands of sensitive ad targeting options

Facebook Inc said Tuesday that it plans to remove detailed ad targeting options that address “sensitive” topics, such as ads based on interactions with content about race, health, religious practices, political beliefs or sexual orientation.

The company, which recently changed its name to Meta and makes the vast majority of its revenue from digital advertising, has come under intense scrutiny over its ad targeting skills and rules in recent years.

In a blog post, Facebook gave examples of targeting categories that would no longer be allowed on its platforms, such as “Lung Cancer Awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”, “LGBT Culture”, “Jewish Holidays” or political beliefs and social problems. . He said the change would take place as of January 19, 2022.

The company has come under fire for its micro-targeting capabilities, including for abuses such as advertisers that discriminate or target vulnerable groups. In 2019, it agreed to make changes to its ad platform as part of a settlement on housing discrimination issues.

“We’ve heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups,” said Graham Mudd, the company’s vice president of product marketing for ads, in the post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg listens as he testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judicial Committees on the company’s use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA. April 10, 2018, USA. REUTERS / Leah Millis (credit: REUTERS / LEAH MILLIS)

Its custom advertising capabilities are used by a wide range of advertisers, including political campaigns and social issue groups, as well as businesses.

“The decision to remove these detailed targeting options was not an easy one and we know that this change may negatively affect some businesses and organizations,” Mudd said in the post, adding that some ad partners were concerned that they might not be able to use these ads to generate positive results. social change.

Advertisers on Facebook platforms can still target audiences by location, use their own customer lists, reach personalized audiences who have engaged with their content, and serve ads to people with similar characteristics to those users.

The move marks a key shift in the company’s approach to social and political advertising, although it is not expected to have significant financial implications. CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimated in 2019, for example, that politicians’ ads would account for less than 0.5% of Facebook’s revenue in 2020.

The issue of political advertising on social media platforms, including whether the content of politicians’ ads needs to be verified, sparked a lot of debate among the public, lawmakers, and businesses surrounding the US presidential election.

Twitter Inc in 2019 banned political ads entirely, but Facebook had previously said it would not limit how political advertisers reached potential voters.

Facebook, which now allows users to choose to see fewer ads related to topics like politics and alcohol, said Tuesday that early next year it would give people more control over the ads they see, including those about gaming. gambling and weight loss.


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