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Facebook developing tool that lets advertisers avoid certain topics

Facebook developing tool that lets advertisers avoid certain topics
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Facebook said Friday that it is developing a feature that will let advertisers ensure their ads don't appear near certain topics on the platform's News Feed.

The new “topic exclusion controls” will be tested with a small group of advertisers in the early stages, the company said in the announcement. The tech giant did not identify which advertisers will participate in the testing phase.

“These controls will help to address concerns advertisers have of their ads appearing in News Feed next to certain topics based on their brand suitability preferences,” Facebook said.

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For example, Facebook said a children’s toy company may choose to avoid content related to “Crime and Tragedy.”

The rollout of the tool comes amid mounting pressure for the company to moderate hateful content on its platform.

Companies like Patagonia, The North Face, Ben & Jerry’s and REI joined a boycott of Facebook last year over concerns about the proliferation of hate speech. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was organized by civil rights groups after the police killing of George Floyd that spurred nationwide protests against racial injustice.

The campaign called for businesses to temporarily pause advertising on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram to push the platform to address concerns over hate speech.

After the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Facebook and other social media giants came under renewed criticism over content moderation practices.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergAdvocacy group accuses Facebook of fueling anti-Muslim hate Texas GOP move to overhaul voting laws: What you need to know Congress must come together and protect our children on social media MORE said Wednesday the company is looking to dial back the political content users see on the platform, with plans to extend its pre-election action of no longer recommending political groups or pages on the platform.

Facebook’s initial commitment to stop recommending political groups, however, has been questioned after a report showed the platform failed to enforce the pause.