Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Facebook amps up ads oversight in response to 'Jew haters'

Sheryl Sandberg called Facebook's ad-targeting embarrassment 'totally inappropriate and a fail on our part' Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says anti-Semitic targeting was 'a fail on our part'
Terence Owen | 21 September, 2017, 01:55

Facebook is adding more humans to review its automated ad system, Sandberg wrote, and is reinstating its "5,000 most commonly used targeting terms" that Facebook has deemed do not peddle hate speech, but it's not clear if these are the only terms that Facebook will allow advertisers use in targeting now. "Hate has no place on Facebook - and as a Jew, as a mother, and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate".

"We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way - and that is on us", Sandberg wrote, referring to the ad categories controversy.

After removing self-reported targeting fields last week, Facebook today announced a broader set of long-term measures to improve ad targeting on the platform.

Facebook's ads were also in the spotlight earlier this month when it was discovered that a Russian group was likely behind the purchase of politically charged advertising targeting American voters.

Backed forces take 90% of IS stronghold Raqqa - monitor
Backed by US-led coalition air strikes, the SDF spent months encircling the city before entering it in early June. It quickly became synonomous with the group's most gruesome atrocities, including public beheadings.

Those users had violated Facebook's policies by entering the offensive terms into the employer or education sections of their profiles. So when users put "Jew hater" as their job title, that automatically appeared as a legitimate targeting category to advertisers. "And we did not find it ourselves - and that is also on us". The company will also devote more resources to ensuring that "content that goes against our community standards can not be used to target ads", and add more human oversight to its advertising system more broadly. Additional targeting options, she said, would have "more manual review", but didn't specify whether each new targeting option would be reviewed manually or whether the company would need to hire more people to conduct so many manual reviews. The company will also clarify its ad policies and tighten its enforcement of the policies Sandberg said, without providing much more detail.

You have to wonder: If there were more women or under-represented minorities on Facebook's engineering product teams, would this flawed ad tech have even seen the light of day? Of the last fix, Sandberg says similar methods have worked in other parts of Facebook and should be able to carry over to ads.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that fights anti-Semitism and hate, applauded Facebook's response.

Sandberg said Facebook is taking steps to ensure that material violating its community standards can not be used to target ads.

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