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The types of Facebook ads you see might change soon


Meta, the new parent company of Facebook, announced this week that they are changing some of the advertising practices on their social media platform. The company said it will remove detailed targeting options for “sensitive” issues beginning in January that address “causes, organizations or public figures relating to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion or sexual orientation” could relate. ”

In this case, the health topic could be related to awareness of diabetes or lung cancer; sexual orientation could be related to same-sex marriage and LGBT culture; and religion could refer to practices and groups such as the Catholic Church or Jewish holidays.

According to the Facebook for Business Help Center, detailed targeting enables companies to “refine” the audience of users Facebook shows their ads to based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This follows another recent privacy-related change that Meta made when it announced last week that it was deleting the huge archive of Facebook user facial prints that was used to suggest user tags in photos.

[Related: Facebook archived more than a billion user faces. Now it’s deleting them.]

Regarding this latest update, Graham Mudd, VP of Product Marketing for Ads at Meta, said in a press release on Tuesday, “It is important to note that the interest targeting options we have removed are not based on physical or personal characteristics of people, but instead on things like people’s interactions with content on our platform. ”

He also claimed that personalized advertising experiences “enable people to discover products and services from small businesses that may not be able to market them on television or other forms of media”.

Mudd warned that despite the revamped ad targeting, users may still see ad content they aren’t interested in. As of now, users will see fewer ads related to politics, parenting, alcohol, and pets. Next year they’ll add content like gambling and weight loss to the categories.

That decision, Mudd wrote, was made in response to concerns from experts who feared that this type of ad targeting could harm people in underrepresented groups.

[Related: Congress is coming for big tech—here’s how and why]

Sandra Wachter, Associate Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, wrote in a paper published in 2019 in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal that providers of online platforms using “behavioral” advertising “can infer very sensitive information about individuals in order to to address or exclude certain groups ”. of products and services or offering other prices. ”This is a concept she calls“ discrimination by association ”. For example, in the paper, she noted that “dog owners”, which may seem like a harmless group category, can be used as a proxy for lenders to decide who might qualify for a loan application.

1 / Big news: Facebook will no longer allow advertisers to target users by age, gender and zip code for housing, work and loan offers. It’s part of a big deal with civil rights organizations that sued FB after we reported on it. https://t.co/cXbtsphXGH

– ProPublica (@propublica) March 19, 2019

After a series of ProPublica research in 2016 found that certain companies were using targeted advertising to exclude users by race and other categories, Facebook said in 2019 that it would no longer allow employers, lenders or landlords to discriminate against protected groups if it with several civil rights organizations.

The New York Times reported that “Meta relies on targeted advertising for the majority of its annual revenue of $ 86 billion.” Mudd noted that these new changes could affect small businesses, nonprofits, and stakeholders hosted on its platforms, but suggested alternative advertising options, such as broad gender and age targeting and the use of Engagement Custom Audiences, to Reach out to people who either liked their page or were interested in their content in the feed.


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