One of the great things about Facebook advertising is that it’s possible to target a very specific demographic. However, the website’s ability to target ads for specific “ethnic affinities” has come under criticism for enabling discrimination.
This month, Facebook has implemented new policies that aim to prevent discrimination in advertising.
Ethnic affinity is one of Facebook’s demographics that users do not choose. Rather, Facebook’s algorithms assign an affinity based on a user’s friends, groups, and page likes.
Possible affinities include “African American” and “Hispanic.” Advertisers can then choose to either include or exclude certain ethnicities in their advertising.
This practice can become highly problematic if, for example, an advertisement for housing excludes minority groups.
The new policies, according to an announcement by Facebook, aim to “promote inclusion and opportunity for underserved communities, while also protecting against discriminatory uses.”
via Pro Publica
As a first step, Facebook has updated their policy on discrimination, specifying that ads “must not discriminate or encourage discrimination against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.”
Advertisers can read a new guide on discriminatory practices to make sure they stay on the right side of Facebook’s policy.
The biggest change is a new enforcement tool that will identify and disapprove ads that offer housing, employment, or credit opportunities and use Facebook’s “multicultural affinity segments” in their demographic targeting. If you believe your ad has been inaccurately flagged, you can request a manual review.
For advertisements offering housing, employment, or credit and using other audience segmenting tools, Facebook will require advertisers to complete a “self-certification” task. This simply means reviewing Facebook’s anti-discrimination policy and affirming that your ad does not discriminate.
Facebook users who are concerned about advertising targeting can view their own ad preferences on Facebook. There, you can see which interests, groups, and descriptors you are being identified with and choose any you’d like to exclude from future ad targeting.