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Facebook to trim advert categories aimed at 'anti-Semites'

From BBC - September 15, 2017

Facebook is reviewing its ad targeting system after investigators found they could direct ads to self-described anti-Semites.

Researchers at ProPublica found several ad categories for people who had declared that they "hated" Jews.

Facebook said its algorithms automatically created the categories when analysing user interests.

It said it would trim the number of categories available and check the list before letting advertisers see it.

The ProPublica researchers found the anti-Jewish categories while conducting a larger investigation into the way Facebook targets adverts at users.

To find out if the classifications were real, it bought ads that combined the three separate anti-Semitic categories with several others that were about far-right topics.

'Discrimination prohibited'

ProPublica said it had to use several categories because Facebook would not let it buy adverts for the small number of users who had described themselves as being anti-Semitic. One category had only two Facebook users in it.

The three adverts it prepared, which advertised ProPublica's work, were approved and posted to the news feeds of the people who had revealed they were interested in the right-wing topics.

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