Technology

Facebook allowed advertisers to reach anti-Semitic individuals: report

Facebook allowed advertisers to target advertisements toward anti-semitic individuals, according to ProPublica.

The social media giant has taken down categories that advertisers could gear their ads towards like "Jew hater," "How to burn jews," or, "History of 'why jews ruin the world,' " after ProPublica reached out them.

The outlet purchased $30 worth of ads targeting the mentioned categories to test the feature. Facebook reportedly approved the three ads within 15 minutes.

"We don't allow hate speech on Facebook," said Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook in a statement emailed to The Hill.  "However, there are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards. We know we have more work to do, so we're also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future."

Facebook generated the categories automatically with the results of what users typed into their education and employment fields. 

The controversy over Facebook's anti-semitic ad categories comes as the company recently revealed Russian actors purchased $100,000 in targeted ads to potentially influence outcome of the 2016 election. The company did not become aware of the ads which were purchased in 2015 and 2016 until earlier this summer when it conducted an internal review on the matter.

Lawmakers like the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Mark Warner (Va.), have called for more transparency from Facebook on how these ads were purchased and on who they targeted.

The company found itself in another controversy over its ads in 2016, when ProPublica purchased a housing advertisement that using Facebook's tools, was able to exclude black, Hispanic and Asian-American individuals from viewing it, potentially violating discrimination laws.

Facebook removed the feature after ProPublica's report and said it would work to prevent advertisers being able to discriminate with its ad tools.

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