It is quite conceivable that Facebook, with over 2 billion users, has some horrible people among its users. But what is harder to digest is the fact that the company reportedly allows advertisers using its home-grown tools to target these people. Using the ad targeting tools, advertisers on Facebook can reportedly target people who hate jews, like gang-rape, want to kill hajis (Muslims), want to burn Jews, follow Nazi parties, fantasize about “pillage the women, rape the village”, kill Muslims radicals and other hate topics.
The reports come courtesy ProPublica and Slate . First to publish its report was ProPublica that found that advertisers on Facebook could target people who hate Jews. Next, the Slate dug deeper and found many more offensive and hate topics in auto suggestions that Facebook offered to advertisers.
When the ads targeting these hate terms were submitted to Facebook for approval, they were approved within minutes, noted the Slate report.
The ProPublica approached Facebook seeking comments on the matter and got a response saying that the tools and topics that the website was using for ad targeting were not widely used and that their impact was limited. Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told ProPublica, “We have looked at the use of these audiences and campaigns and it’s not common or widespread.” The news website also found that after it reported the matter to Facebook, the hate topics were removed.
But obviously the Facebook ad targeting algorithms were not changed because using the same tools, the Slate later found more hateful terms that advertisers could use to reach their audience.
The issue seems particularly significant because Facebook is not just any other web service. It has over 2 billion users and it plays an important role in the world today. In fact, increasingly there is a growing consensus that Facebook has started playing a role in shaping behaviour and thoughts of a collective group of people.
Many experts believe that Donald Trump could win in the US only because Facebook helped spread lies and hateful agenda of his campaign managers and helped the Trump camp reach people who had far Right tendencies.
Given its user base, reach and influence, Facebook with its ad network is apparently allowing people to reach-out to like-minded users. It also probably makes it easier for a group or political party with hateful agenda to reach more people.
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