Facebook Inc had recently reported that it will no longer allow certain advertisers to target any racial or ethnic groups while they are placing their ads on the social networking service, as the company was previously criticized that the practice was discriminatory.
This move comes amidst the growing scrutiny of how the world’s most popular online social media network’s policies and algorithms are shaping all the content which appears on a user’s news feed.
US Election Results Prompting Doubts
The most unexpected victory of Donald Trump this week in the elections for the next US President has prompted controversies and doubts over how much the voters were influenced and carried away by news items which were shared on Facebook that were misleading and inaccurate, of which most of them in favor of Trump.
Facebook had reportedly said in a blog post that it will now disable the use of its advertising tool which is called ‘ethnic affinities,’ for advertisements which offer employment, housing, and the extension of credit, especially in the areas where certain racial groups have been historically facing discrimination. The Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook had written that there have been many non-discriminatory uses of the company’s ethnic affinity solution in these areas. But the company has decided that they are doing their best to guard against all this discrimination by suspending these types of advertisements.
Facebook has been in the practice of collecting vast amounts of data about its users that include photographs which will be categorized demographically in ways which will allow the advertisers to target all the precise content to those people whom they want to reach. The Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook said that the company will now be using tools which will be capable of automatically detecting and disabling the advertisements which offer employment, housing, or credit that have been relying on ethnic affinity marketing. The social networking company will also be updating its policies which will scrupulously require the advertisers to not engage anymore in any kind of discriminatory advertising.
ProPublica News Article
All these changes came into the scene right after two weeks of publication of an article by ProPublica which is a non-profit investigative news organization. The news article showed how Facebook was allowing its advertisers to exclude the groups on the basis of ethnic affinities. The news organization said that it considered these practices to violate the federal housing and civil rights laws that were passed in the 1960s. After ProPublica had published the report, a group of Facebook users had filed a lawsuit against the social networking company claiming that such targeting of ads was violating the Fair Housing Act and Civil Rights Act.
Facebook has been attracting a lot of criticism in the past few months about how it is policing several forms of its content for the 1.8 billion users, that include all the extremist propaganda, nudity and also political articles that are misleading or inaccurate, which have come to be known as ‘fake news.’ The company has also been accused by a few political observers, reporters, and some people in the Silicon Valley of helping Trump to win the Presidential election by doing very little to restrict the spread of news items, many from shady websites, onto its service.
However, the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg had reportedly rejected all those claims. He had said in California at a technology conference that it is a pretty crazy idea that the fake news items on Facebook, which actually make up to a very small amount of content had influenced the election in any possible way.
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