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'How to burn Jews' Facebook group suggested to advertisers by algorithm

16 September 2017

In all, ProPublica reports that roughly 2,300 people expressed interest in the anti-Semitic categories. Facebook, one of the biggest technology companies in the world both in terms of user base and in how much money it makes from advertisement, allows advertisers to reach people with questionable interests that may include something like hating Jews, desire to kill Muslims or fantasizing about gang-rape.

ProPublica shared a screenshot of the anti-Semitic targeting that was available through Facebook's ad portal. The agency said Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.

"We don't allow hate speech on Facebook", says Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook, in an e-mailed statement.

However, he said, there were times when information appeared on Facebook that violated its standards.

It said it would also prevent advertisers from targeting users based on their education or employment profiles "until we have the right processes in place".

The company's software encouraged the purchase of the ads, saying they would reach 5,897 people, generating 101 clicks, and 13 "engagements" such as a "like" a "share", according to the investigation. Last week, the company disclosed it sold $100,000 worth of ads to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russian Federation during the election. Last year, it uncovered that it could target ads in a way that discriminated certain ethnic groups, which led to policy reviews and calls for action even by Congress.

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When the news outlet looked for analogous advertising categories for other religions, such as "Muslim haters", it said "Facebook didn't have them".

"It was shocking to read about this practice on Facebook, and we are glad Facebook ended it", he said in a statement.

This is a big deal because it could shape the styles of content created for Facebook Watch, the new original programming hub its launched where publishers earn 55% of ad revenue.

Facebook's targeted advertising feature allows advertisers to focus on specific groups of people that are more likely to be interested in their products or services. In this case, we've removed the associated targeting fields in question.

"We won't always be flawless, but you have my commitment that we'll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe", he wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg wrote at the time that "there is no place for hate in our community", and pledged to keep a closer eye on hateful posts and threats of violence on Facebook.

'How to burn Jews' Facebook group suggested to advertisers by algorithm