Facebook on Wednesday announced the rollout of new tools designed to combat discrimination in its advertising products.
The social media giant’s new policies name specific protected races, ethnicities and nationalities, and specifically outline prohibited discriminatory practices on the site.
The moves are aimed at strengthening the company's existing anti-discrimination policies.
Facebook is also making use of new machine learning methods to identify ads for housing, credit and employment — target areas for those concerned by potential discrimination in Facebook’s targeted ads.
Facebook says that with the new tool, if an advertiser sought to exclude African Americans, Asian Americans or Hispanics from seeing an ad related to housing, credit or employment, the site would block the ad from being published.
The site’s advertising tools first came under scrutiny in October when ProPublica reported that the platform allowed advertisers to potentially discriminate against African American, Asian American or Hispanic groups in their targeted advertising.
Facebook announced in November that it would begin building tools and updates to mitigate discrimination on their website and stop instances like what ProPublica reported on from occurring.
“Since committing to these changes last fall, we've heard from public and private sector organizations,” the company wrote in their post. “Several organizations have asked us to work with them to help identify ways that our advertising technology could be used to promote inclusion and opportunity for underserved communities, while also protecting against discriminatory uses.”
The social media platform noted that members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman were among those who collaborated and supported the new updates.
Advocacy groups noted their support for the measures.
“Facebook has done the right thing by building new systems to help make sure that people aren’t denied opportunities because of who they are,” said Rachel Goodman, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program. “We urge the rest of the online advertising industry to follow suit.”
“Facebook’s revised policies should serve as an industry model for companies that utilize targeted advertising to ensure they do not violate the federal anti-discrimination laws, including those prohibiting discrimination in housing, credit, and employment,” said Coty Montag, deputy director of litigation at The NAACP Legal Defense Fund.