Facebook let advertisers target antisemitic users and those who express hateful opinions, it has been revealed.
Advertisers on Facebook were able to pay to direct material at users who had expressed an interest in the topics “Jew hater”, “How to burn Jews” and “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world'”, a ProPublica investigation has found.
Facebook lets advertisers target people with certain interests on its network. But in an incident that has been described as “disgraceful” and “repugnant”, the company’s algorithm let ProPublica pay to display adverts in front of people with hateful views.
Facebook, which has deleted the offensive categories, said users had tricked its algorithm by putting the offensive descriptions in the “education” and “employer” fields on their profiles.
“There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards,” said Rob Leathern, product management director at Facebook, according to ProPublica. “In this case, we’ve removed the associated targeting fields in question.”