Technology

Google allowed advertisers to target bigoted and racist categories: report

Advertisers looking to target people searching for racist and hateful content on Google can do so using the search giant's own ad tools BuzzFeed reports. In some cases, the outlet found, Google will prompt ad buyers to target other types of racist searches.

The outlet found that typing "white people ruin" as an advertising keyword in Google's ad tool would elicit Google suggesting that an advertiser include "black people ruin neighborhoods" as another possible target.

BuzzFeed also discovered that typing "Why do Jews ruin everything" will lead to Google suggesting that an ad buyer also target advertisements to individuals searching for "the evil jew" and "jewish control of banks."

After finding this, BuzzFeed purchased the hateful ads and found that Google ran them. After the outlet followed up with Google on this, the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant deleted all of the search terms, except for "blacks destroy everything," from its targeting options for advertisers.

"This violates our policies against derogatory speech and we have removed it," a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed News after the outlet sent a screenshot of an ad campaign targeted to the search terms "Zionists control the world."

Google says that it's working to rectify the problem.

"We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected," a Google spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Hill. "In this instance, ads didn't run against the vast majority of these keywords, but we didn't catch all these offensive suggestions. We've already turned off these suggestions, an any ads that made it through, and will work harder to stop this from happening again."

BuzzFeed's discovery comes on the heels of ProPublica's report on Thursday revealing that advertisers on Facebook could target individuals who had noted their support for racist categories like "Jew hater," "How to burn jews" or "History of 'why jews ruin the world.' "

Facebook says its controversial ad categories were generated by users putting in racist and bigoted phrases into their education and work fields on the platform, which the company then aggregates and turns into ad categories.

Google's ad suggestions are developed by searches that individuals make on the platform. It tries to police ad targeting groups that violate its policies and said in a report that it removed 1.7 billion ads that violated its policies in 2016.

-This story was updated on Sept. 16 at 3:55 p.m.

Outbrain
View desktop version