Facebook cracks down on hate ads

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Facebook enabled the advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of nearly 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of "Jew hater", "How to burn Jews" or "History of why Jews ruin the world", a ProPublica investigation revealed.

COO Sheryl Sandberg clarified Facebook's position in a post and laid out its three-pronged approach to running a tighter ship.

"Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed - disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this", Sandberg wrote. In reaction to this, Sandberg said, "Hate has no place on Facebook - and as a Jew, as a mother, and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate".

Facebook is tightening controls on its advertising targeting tools, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg announced in a statement acknowledging that the ability for advertisers to target "Jew haters" until last week was "totally inappropriate and a fail on our part". Sandberg says that targeting of this kind has always been against Facebook's polices; apparently those polices weren't enforced in this area until now. But documents obtained by Pro Publica earlier this summer reveal that the platform has used formulas that prohibit hate speech against "protected categories", which include sex, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, serious disability or disease, and sexual orientation when it comes to content posted by users.

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Facebook will add more human reviewers as well as oversight to its automated processes, she said. The company has reinstated 5,000 of the most innocuous and "commonly used targeting terms" - think "nurse", "teacher", "dentistry" - after a manual review of existing targeting options.

The problem stems from how Facebook's ad system automatically mines information from user profiles to create specific topics that advertisers can pay to target. "We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way - and that is on us".

Facebook is making changes to its ad platform in an attempt to prevent people from using it for hateful ad targeting. Our community deserves to have us enforce this policy with deep caution and care.

This isn't the first time ProPublica has identified racist ad-targeting on Facebook.

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