Facebook has found itself at the centre of a fresh racism row after an investigation by ProPublica found that the social network had actively solicited anti-Semitic ad buyers wishing to target users voicing anti-Jew sentiments.
It found that among the advertising categories offered by the social network to allow buyers to tailor their ads for specific audiences were ‘Jew Haters’ and ‘How to burn Jews’, sub-groups in which several thousand users were active.
Facebook has now removed the offensive hate speech categories, insisting that they were generated by users which were blindly registered as potential advertising keywords by automated systems, though not before it was forced to make an embarrassing statement insisting that it was not racist.
Facebook’s product management director Rob Leathern said: “…there are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards. 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.”
Just last week Facebook admitted that it had sold thousands of adverts to suspicious accounts likely emanating from Russia, which were targeted to widen social divisions within the US.