Facebook Halts Potential Anti-Semitic Ads Following Report

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According to a chilling ProPublica report, Facebook's self-service ad buying platform included a number of antisemitic categories.

ProPublica reported Thursday that Facebook's platform allowed advertisers to target users who had entered terms such as "jew hater" in the education or employment fields of their personal profiles.

ProPublica then performed a test, paying $30 to target the users that had liked these anti-Semitic topics. It says Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.

The Google-owned company and social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have been warned by the Government they must do more to moderate their platforms for hateful content. As expected, representatives have pledged to "prevent other issues like this from happening in the future" by implementing tighter controls and processes.

Facebook's algorithm automatically transforms people's self-reported interests, employers and fields of study into advertising categories.

It's often been observed that Facebook's real product is its users, as without their voluntary surrender of personal data the company could not sell finely-targeted ads. Facebook changed its policy to stop that following the report.

The revelation comes as Facebook faces intense scrutiny over its ad practices after disclosing it sold $100,000 (£74,470) worth of ads to fake accounts likely linked to Russian Federation during the 2016 election season.

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Reporters took screenshots of the site as they placed the ads.

In response, Facebook said its ad-buying system is not ideal.

Facebook has a lot "more work to do" indeed, because a follow-up investigation by Slate shows that its algorithm also recognizes "Kill Muslimic Radicals" and "Ku-Klux-Klan" as valid ad categories.

This is a big deal because it could shape the styles of content created for Facebook Watch, the new original programming hub its launched where publishers earn 55% of ad revenue. These two groups had a combined audience of nearly 6000 users. But Facebook's algorithms had suggestions to boost the audience size, including to people who like gun rights.

"We won't always be flawless, but you have my commitment that we'll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe", Mr Zuckerberg wrote.

It is quite conceivable that Facebook, with over 2 billion users, has some frightful people among its users.

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