Facebook will disable tools that allowed marketers to discriminate against ethnic groups, LGBT+

Facebook will disable tools in its ad-targeting system that have allowed marketers to exclude racial and ethnic groups, religious groups, segments of the LGBT+ community, and other minority groups.

The company announced the move in a letter to Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, writing: “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads.’

Marketers who wish to target specific racial and ethnic groups will see their ads subjected to additional scrutiny before they appear on the network, and advertisers will be required to affirm that they understand the law and Facebook’s own anti-discrimination policies. Facebook will introduce these new measures over the next several weeks.

Read more from USA Today

Statement from Rob Goldman, Vice President, Ads Growth & Solutions
People, businesses and organizations around the world use Facebook to advertise. It’s important we make sure they use our tools responsibly. And a key part of this is working to stop ads that discriminate against people. We have guidelines to prevent this and other types of abuse, and we’ve strengthened how we enforce those guidelines over the years.

We’ve also made mistakes and learned from them. ProPublica recently found that safeguards we put in place earlier this year were not as comprehensive as they should have been. This was a failure in our enforcement. We must do better.

We’ve sought the advice of people and groups with unique perspectives on discrimination in ads. In our conversations with these experts, we’ve committed to do the following:

  1. We are undertaking a review of “exclusion” – the ability for advertisers to exclude specific audiences when creating ads on Facebook. Our review will focus on the use of exclusion for multicultural affinity groups and other potentially sensitive segments (e.g., segments that relate to the LGBTQ community or to religious groups).
  2. We will share what we learn with groups focused on discrimination in ads, work with them to identify further improvements we can make, and then publish the steps we’re taking.
  3. During this review, no advertiser will be able to create ads that exclude multicultural affinity groups. Ads targeting or excluding potentially sensitive segments (e.g., segments that relate to the LGBTQ community or to religious groups) are subject to expanded review before they appear on Facebook.
  4. In addition to the enhanced review, advertisers will have to certify that they understand our anti-discrimination policies and the law when using multicultural affinity segments for inclusion on ads on Facebook. These self-certification measures will be introduced over the next several weeks  and anyone that excludes / includes these groups will have enhanced review and need to certify.
  5. We’ve made it easier for people to report any ad they see on our services so we can review for violations of our ad guidelines – just tap the upper right hand corner of any ad.

We are grateful for the feedback we’ve received so far – particularly from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, Robin Kelly and Bonnie Watson Coleman – and we’ll continue keeping people informed on how we’re preventing the misuse of our ads tools.