Facebook Addresses Hate Speech By Removing Targeting Options

In what is supposed to be a temporary measure, Facebook has announced that they will be removing some popular self-reported targeting options for advertisers, in order to prevent people from taking advantage of them to target hate groups.

The fields that are being removed include education, field of study, job title and employment. Facebook explained that their self-service advertising system has been automatically populating these fields, based on what the members of various Facebook communities post about themselves, and that as users sometimes post objectionable content, despite community standards rules, these categories are sometimes populated by anti-Semitic statements and similar types of prejudicial comments.

Facebook has said that this move, (which does not yet appear to have been implemented) will be a temporary one until they are able to fix the problem, but there is as yet no word on how long that will take, or how they will accomplish it.

Problems For Advertisers

As admirable as it is for Facebook to commit to fighting hate speech on their platform, the move comes with potentially serious problems for advertisers.

One of the biggest drawcards for advertising on Facebook is the wide range of targeting options that they provide for advertisers, allowing them to reach very specific audiences. (Thanks to all the data that Facebook captures about its users.)

With this change however, that’s a wide swathe of options that are going to be unusable for targeting, which could affect things ranging frmo audience size and relevance, all the way through to conversions.

It’s a bit early to be sure, since as mentioned, the changes don’t appear to have been implemented yet, but if / when it lands, there could be serious implications.

We’ll keep you up to date.