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Facebook Walks Back Racial Profiling in Ads

On Friday, Facebook announced that it would be disabling the controversial “Ethnic Affinity” tool that allowed advertisers to exclude certain ethnic groups from target audiences. Essentially finding that people were not as thrilled with the idea as their advertisers were. And for good reason.

“We will disable the use of ethnic affinity marketing for ads that we identify as offering housing, employment or credit,” wrote Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, in a post.  The whole problem is people don’t like to be singled out so when Facebook allowed it they made a mistake.

Facebook said it had worked with civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and would update the language in its advertising policies to make it more explicit that discrimination by advertisers will not be tolerated, Egan said.

The idea that people of different races may be interested in different things is not altogether new, which is likely why ad companies likely curtailed their ads in this way, but in all its not good for business on Facebook.

Facebook came under harsh scrutiny earlier this month after a report emerged that showed the social network was offering advertisers ways of excluding specific races by checking a category it called “Ethnic Affinity.” Advertisers could choose to exclude African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans on the self-service advertising portal, as investigated by Pro Publica. On the other hand, this type of exclusion certainly sounds like it shares quite a bit with Trump.

“Some people are still caught by surprise and are upset that Facebook is categorizing you as a potential ad target based on your “likes” or demographic information that you volunteered when signing up — but as long as you don’t pay for using Facebook, you basically should consider yourself part of the product that Facebook is selling to advertisers.” or you could just opt out of Facebook completely.

Featured Image via Pixabay


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