Facebook is continuing the push to make its platform safer for users, this time removing more than 5,000 ad targeting filters from its system to keep advertisers from discriminating against ethnic or religious groups.
This latest move aims to prohibit advertisers from using filters for housing, employment or credit-related campaigns that could potentially keep ads for things like job postings, housing offers or credit applications from being displayed to specific ethnic or religious groups.
“While these [ad targeting] options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion,” Facebook writes on its news blog.
In addition to removing ad filters, Facebook will also be launching a certification tool within its Ads Manager platform that requires housing, employment and credit advertisers in the US to certify they are in compliance with Facebook’s non-discrimination policy.
Facebook says it will be extending the certification process to other tools and APIs, as well as additional countries, over time.
Facebook has a history of problems around its ad targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads. In November of 2016, the company put limits on its ethnic-affinity ad targeting options after a report from ProPublica revealed advertisers were using the filters to discriminate against groups. A year later, a follow-up report from ProPublica found Facebook advertisers were still able to avoid anti-discrimination laws in their ad campaigns on the platform.
At the time, Facebook disabled brands from using its multicultural affinity targeting for exclusion targeting, and the company’s VP of ads, Rob Goldman, said Facebook was working to certify that advertisers understood Facebook’s anti-discrimination policies and the law when using multicultural affinity segments for inclusion on ads on Facebook.
With the latest removal of 5,000 ad filters and the certification tool now being part of Facebook’s Ads Manager, Facebook’s most recent updates make evident the company still has work to do around discriminatory practices among its advertisers.