Facebook Inc. (FB) - Get Report COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a post on Wednesday, Sept. 20, that the issue that allowed advertisers to target anti-Semitic terms was "a fail on our part" and vowed to institute changes to the company's ad targeting policies.
"The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate," the Jewish Sandberg wrote. According to Sandberg, the problem came about because if a user identified him- or herself as a "Jew-hater" or said they studied "how to burn Jews" in their profiles, those terms appeared as targeting options for advertisers.
Nonprofit investigative journalism group ProPublica first brought the issue to light in a story last week showing how the anti-Semitic terms could be selected by advertisers. Facebook subsequently removed the terms and said it would work to make sure they weren't targetable in the future.
In Sandberg's post, she wrote that Facebook would now tighten its enforcement process so that content that runs counter to the site's community standards can't be used for targeting purposes.
"This includes anything that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or disabilities or diseases," she wrote.
Sandberg said Facebook is also adding more human review and oversight of automated processes such as the approval of targeting options, and would create a program to encourage users to report potential abuses of the ad system.
"We have had success with such programs for our technical systems, and we believe we can do something similar with ads," she wrote.
Facebook's vetting process has come under scrutiny with the news in early September that operators linked to Russia had used fake accounts to purchase $100,000 of ads designed to impact the recent U.S. presidential election. (Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg told Axios on Wednesday that Facebook should have someone "read every message" if that's what it takes to address the problem.)
Facebook shares were trading down 0.2% to $171.82on Thursday at midday, and are up about 49% in 2017.
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