Last week Facebook announced that they were removing certain ad targeting options as a result of advertisers creating ads targeted towards people on Facebook associating themselves with hate.
In this case people on Facebook had entered in ‘NaziParty’ as their Employer or ‘Jew Hater’ as their Field of Study, and Facebook’s algorithm decided that there were enough people in these groups to warrant their own ad targeting group. This comes in the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville back in August.
ProPublica, an independent, not for profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism, published an article that reported how Facebook had approved ads targeting these user audiences (and other hateful variations).
The algorithm developed by Facebook that crawls users’ profiles identified the patterns and created the new audience segments which became available to advertisers on their platform. Once Facebook became aware of this, they responded by removing the ability for advertisers to target people based on their Education, Employment, Field of Study and Job Title.
In a statement released on 14 September, Facebook said this change was made “to help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes, we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue.”
While Facebook has certainly done the right thing by removing the ability for advertisers to create content and ads that promote hate, it has limited the ability for advertisers who do the right thing (like us) to target specific audience groups. This could benefit LinkedIn where these targeting parameters still exist, so we could start to see advertising budgets shifting platforms – at least until Facebook fixes it’s processes.
Facebook will often roll out quite significant changes that can catch marketers off guard. In July, they made a change to help curb the spread of fake news (no prizes for guessing where this came from). The change prevented the ability to update the image, title and description that gets pulled through when a link is shared in a post. This was an attempt to make life harder for fake news distributors from sending readers to articles they weren’t expecting. Publishers that regularly share their content of Facebook can get around this by implementing open graph tags on content to enable better control on what is displayed when a link is shared.
Our clients continue to get great results from Facebook advertising with the myriad of targeting capabilities that are available. Find out how sophisticated Facebook targeting can lead to your next activation campaign.