Facebook empowered white-supremacist groups by helping advertisers target “Jew haters” and members of the “Nazi Party,” an investigation reveals.
“Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you,’’ according to the non-profit Web site ProPublica, which investigated the issue.
Users who described themselves as “Jew haters” or “liked” subjects such as “How to burn Jews” or “Why Jews ruin the world” were shown the ads, according to the non-profit media group.
Propublica payed $30 to target the anti-Semitic groups with three “promoted posts” — and found Facebook approved all of them within 15 minutes.
The software selected audience categories from Facebook’s ad-buying platform, which included one for “Jew haters,” a group that included 2,274 users.
Facebook automatically recommended adding related categories such as “Nazi Party” and “German Schutzstaffel” to reach more people.
The company’s software encouraged the purchase of the ads, saying they would reach 5,897 people, generating 101 clicks, and 13 “engagements” such as a “like” a “share,” according to the investigation.
Facebook yanked the anti-Semitic ad categories earlier this week after ProPublica inquired about them, according to the article, published Thursday.
The ads were created with an algorithm-like system, not by Facebook employees, according to the firm, which said it would “explore ways to fix the problem.
“There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards,” Facebook Product Management Director Rob Leathern told ProPublica.
“In this case, we’ve removed the associated targeting fields in question. We know we have more work to do, so we’re also building new guardrails in our product and review processes to prevent other issues like this from happening in the future,” he said.