Facebook allows advertisers to target users based on a perceived interest in Nazism

Facebook back in 2018 pulled out 5,000 ad categories that could be used for discrimination.

Facebook still has quite a long way to go in its endeavour of eliminating racism from its ad targeting service. A new report reveals that the social media giant is allowing advertisers to target users based on their perceived interest in Nazi ideologies.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that Facebook lets advertisers buy ads targeting people with an interest in neo-Nazi terminology, musicians and Holocaust-deniers. To be more specific, the publication bought ads from Facebook and let them target thousands of users based on their interest in chief Third Reich propagandist Joseph Goebbels, concentration camp doctor Josef Mengel, Holocaust leader Heinrich Himmler and a neo-nazi punk band called Skrewdriver.

Facebook. Reuters.

Facebook. Reuters.

Having flagged these racist markers to Facebook, company spokesman Joe Osborne reverted to the publication stating that these ad categories were used very rarely and that they existed to target those with an interest in historical material. However, he did acknowledge that the company should have spotted them sooner and could do better.

"Most of these targeting options are against our policies and should have been caught and removed sooner," the Facebook spokesman told the paper. "While we have an ongoing review of our targeting options, we clearly need to do more, so we're taking a broader look at our policies and detection methods."

But this certainly isn't the first time that Facebook's ad targeting has come under the scanner for racial targetting.

News publications like ProPublica and The Intercept have found Facebook's ad platform allowing advertisers to target users based on anti-Semitic terms in the past.

A separate investigation by ProPublica also found that Facebook was allowing the placement of discriminatory ads on its platform by letting advertisers remove certain people by their race or ethnicity.

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