Facebook parent company will stop ad targeting based on race, political affiliation

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Advertisers on Facebook will no longer be able to target ads based on user’s interactions with topics such as race, religion and political affiliation, the social media giant announced Tuesday. 

The change across Meta’s platforms, the new parent name for Facebook, will go into effect starting Jan. 2022. 

The update will remove “detailed targeting” options related to topics “people may perceive as sensitive,” according to the company’s blog post

For example, ads won’t be able to target based on sexual orientaion using terms such as “same-sex marriage” and “LGBTQ culture,” or based on religious practices using terms such as “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays.” 

Targeting based on references to political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations and figures will also be banned.

“Like many of our decisions, this was not a simple choice and required a balance of competing interests where there was advocacy in both directions. We feel confident that we can evolve our ads system to meet the needs of everyone we serve, while working diligently to continue supporting one of the best things about our platforms — helping people connect with and discover the businesses and organizations they care about,” vice president of product marketing Graham Mudd said in a blog post. 

The change comes after years of criticism Facebook has faced over allowing micro-targeting of ads in the past. 

In 2019, the company settled with the civil rights and fair housing groups over allegations of the advertising platform enabling landlords and real estate brokers to exclude people of color and other protected groups from receiving housing ads. 

Reports also found that around the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, advertisers ran ads for gun holsters and rifle enhancements in far-right groups. 

It also comes amid a high point of scrutiny on Facebook after a whistleblower leaked internal company documents. The tech giant has pushed back arguing that the reports based on the leaks are misconstruing the intent of the research. 


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