Following several controversies and despite repeated promises to improve its ad-targeting practices, a Los Angeles Times’ report has revealed that Facebook continues to allow advertisers to target users interested in Nazism.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Facebook allowed its staff to target ads to users who have logged interest in topics such as Goebbels (the Third Reich’s chief propagandist), Himmler (SS leader and architect of the Holocaust), Skrewdriver (a neo-Nazi punk band), and Mengele, (the infamous concentration camp doctor who performed human experiments on prisoners).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the ads reached more than 4,153 users in 24 hours, and each category mentioned above included hundreds of thousands of users who would be the potential audiences of these ads.
The newspaper said that it decided to test if the company would allow the sale of ads directed to certain segments of users, after receiving a tip-off from an L.A musician. The artist had noticed that Facebook was suggesting ad targeting to users interested in “National Socialist black metal” when he had searched for “black metal”.
In a statement, Facebook told the Los Angeles Times it would remove these audiences from its ads platform. Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said, “Most of these targeting options are against our policies and should have been caught and removed sooner. While we have an ongoing review of our targeting options, we clearly need to do more, so we’re taking a broader look at our policies and detection methods.”
Facebook has promised since 2017 that it would use human oversight to verify its ad targeting categories. Since autumn 2018, it pulled 5,000 audience categories that risked enabling abuse or discrimination.