Facebook sold ads targeting people interested in ‘How to burn jews’
Fresh off the news that presidential candidate Mark Zuckerberg’s social media company Facebook sold ads during the 2016 campaign to propaganda-pandering accounts commissioned by the Kremlin, ProPublica reported another interesting detail about the website’s business practices. Until this week, you could purchase ads targeting users who are curious about burning Jewish people.
Facebook users who expressed interest in the topics, “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” and “History of ‘why jews ruin the world'” were all available as algorithmically generated target audiences for advertisement. ProPublica confirmed the ad categories by testing them out itself. The investigative journalism nonprofit paid $30 for three “promoted posts” — posts by users you don’t personally follow that show up in your newsfeed. The ad buys were approved within 15 minutes.
The company removed the categories after ProPublica reached out for comment. A Facebook representative blamed the situation on insufficient internal review processes.
“There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards,” Rob Leathern, product management director, said. “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.”
Zuckerberg spoke out against the use of his website by white supremacist hate groups after the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, writing on Facebook:
It’s important that Facebook is a place where people with different views can share their ideas. Debate is part of a healthy society. But when someone tries to silence others or attacks them based on who they are or what they believe, that hurts us all and is unacceptable.
There is no place for hate in our community. That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism — including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm.
ProPublica’s promoted posts targeting anti-Semites reached 5,897 people and generated 101 clicks and 13 “engagements” in the form of a “like,” a “share,” or a comment. Good to know neo-Nazis appreciate quality journalism.