Facebook will increase the number of people who review its advertising system after apologizing for allowing advertisers to use phrases like “Jew-haters” for a targeting criteria. The social network giant didn’t even notice that this and similar offensive categories were an option before a ProPublica report showed it.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Menlo Park-based corporation’s chief operating officer, said the company will have more manual reviews of its advertising system in the future and it will also define its advertising policy more precisely so it would disallow targeting by criteria that attacks any group of people.
Last week, an investigative news organization ProPublica released the report that found people on Facebook could buy ads that target users who describe themselves as “Jew haters,” “Hitler did nothing wrong,” “how to burn Jews” or in other hateful terms. The problem occurred because Facebook automatically generates categories advertisers can target from users’ accounts.
“If someone self-identified as a ‘Jew-hater’ or said they studied ‘how to burn Jews’ in their profile, those terms showed up as potential targeting options for advertisers. We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way – and that is on us,” Sandberg stated and added that those words made her “disgusted.”