Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it would be using AI-based tools to identify ads for a selection of categories including credit, jobs and housing, and block them if they are targeted based on the race of the viewer. Advertisers will now also need to confirm that they are following the companies policies on discriminatory advertising when they attempt to buy an ad in any of those categories, via a pop-up during the ad purchase process.

Facebook Addresses User Concerns

In a post announcing the changes, a Facebook spokesperson wrote that, “We heard concerns that discriminatory advertising can wrongfully deprive people of opportunities and experiences, particularly in the areas of housing, employment and credit, where certain groups historically have faced discrimination.”

They have also updated the wording of their advertising policies, to clarify that advertisers should refrain from discriminating on the basis of characteristics including disability, gender identity and “genetic condition.”

Investigation Exposes Illegal Advertising Practices

These change came about after a recent investigation into Facebook advertising, which discovered that the ability to exclude audience for certain ads (notably housing) based on their racial group was illegal under US law.