Facebook tightens ad rules to prevent discrimination

Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads on Facebook will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code. This is part of Facebook's advertising overhaul to prevent discrimination.

According to Facebook's statement, the changes are the result of historic settlement agreements with leading civil rights organisations and ongoing input from civil rights experts. Additionally, advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall.

Facebook is also building a tool where users can search for and view all current housing ads in the United States targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to them. Meanwhile, multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that inclusivity is a core value for the company and putting a stop to the "long history" of discrimination in the three areas is therefore, a priority. She added, "Housing, employment and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people."

According to Facebook, it has removed thousands of categories from targeting related to protected classes such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. While the platform has been clamping down on discriminatory misuse of ad tools, it has also been helping businesses extend their reach.

"Small businesses now have access to marketing tools that previously only big companies could afford. This levels the playing field so that they can reach audiences they care about. As a result, more than half of small businesses on Facebook say they’ve hired more employees due to growth since joining our platform," said Sandberg.

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