Facebook says sorry for anti-Semitic ads

Vincent Isore  IP3  Getty

The company will also clarify its ad policies and tighten its enforcement of the policies Sandberg said, without providing much more detail. Using Facebook's ad-categories, ProPublica was able to target the Facebook feeds of 2,300 users who had expressed interest in the topics of "Jew Hater", "How to burn jews" or "History of why jews ruin the world". She said the company would continue to manually review new ad targeting options moving forward to prevent offensive terms from appearing.

In a Facebook post published Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that the company was adding more human oversight to its automated ad targeting processes. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news. Facebook users were filling out offensive content in the education or employer fields of their profiles, which allowed advertisers to target those audiences.

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Facebook has apologised for letting advertisers use phrases like "Jew-haters" as a targeting criteria and for not noticing it until it was pointed out. The company has reinstated 5,000 of the most innocuous and "commonly used targeting terms" - think "nurse", "teacher", "dentistry" - after a manual review of existing targeting options.

"The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate", the Jewish Sandberg wrote. But documents obtained by Pro Publica earlier this summer reveal that the platform has used formulas that prohibit hate speech against "protected categories", which include sex, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, serious disability or disease, and sexual orientation when it comes to content posted by users.

Rohingya crisis: Security, population balance to decide course of action, says Jaitley
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For people who want to revisit a Facebook ad, the social giant has introduced a "Recent Ad Activity" feature to all U.S. users that displays around three months of ads that they engaged by clicking, liking, commenting on or sharing, reported TechCrunch. She also said, in cases which Facebook discovers unintended consequences in the future, it will be unrelenting in identifying and fixing them as quickly as possible.

The executive is quick to acknowledge that Facebook simply hadn't anticipated the possibility that hatemongers might abuse ad targeting that way.

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The major difference, she said, is adding more human eyes to the automated process. Last year, Facebook was reportedly allowing its advertisers to exclude users based on their ethnicity while posting their ads. "We removed them and when that was not totally effective, we disabled that targeting section in our ad systems". Facebook has since updated the term to "Multicultural affinity" and it no longer allows that classification to be used in ads for credit, housing or employment.

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