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Facebook approved paid ads targeting ‘Jew haters’, investigation finds

"A 100.000 likes, je présente la météo à la TV", avait lancé Mélanie dans une campagne sur Facebook début mars. Elle en a reçu plus de 200.000 en dix jours.
JOEL SAGET (AFP/Archives)
Facebook reportedly approved three ads directed towards anti-Semites within 15 minutes

Facebook’s paid advertising service is under scrutiny yet again after an investigative report revealed that the social media giant approved ads targeting users interested in explicitly anti-Semitic subjects such as “Jew haters”, “How to burn Jews”, and “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world’”.

The embarrassing finding comes just a week after a Facebook internal review showed that hundreds of Russia-linked fake accounts were used to buy approximately $100,000  worth of ads aimed at inflaming political tensions ahead of and following the 2016 US presidential election.

The ProPublica news organization reported Thursday that Facebook’s self-service ad-purchasing system permitted people to target advertisements to some 2,300 users who listed “Jew haters”, “How to burn Jews”, and “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world’” among their interests.

The news site tested the service and legitimacy of the targeting categories by purchasing $30 worth of advertisements directed towards users interested in the aforementioned subjects.

Facebook reportedly approved the three ads within 15 minutes. The ads and anti-Semitic interest categories were later removed after Facebook was approached by ProPublica for comment.

Facebook’s product management director  Rob Leathern said in a statement on Thursday that while the social network does not allow hate speech on Facebook, content that “violates our standards” sometimes appears on the site.

"We've removed the associated targeting fields in question. 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,"

The anti-Semitic categories were likely generated by users who listed the subjects as interests, employers, or fields of study.

Facebook said it was reviewing changes to its advertising service including more stringent reviews of the targeting categories listed on the self-service platform.

(Staff with agencies)

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