Friday, February 24, 2017

When ad targeting is discriminatory

After first emerging as an issue last fall, Facebook has recently announced steps to address concerns that some advertisers on the social network use discriminatory ad targeting. In response, Facebook will begin using tools to help identify discriminatory practices and will roll out revised policies so “that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.” 

In addition to this new documentation, Facebook also announced that advertisers who want to buy ads related to housing, employment, and credit will now have to confirm they are abiding by Facebook’s discrimination rules after finding that some advertisers were excluding certain races for these types of ads.

These new Facebook policies hint at a larger issue in the digital advertising space; as ad targeting becomes more and more sophisticated, and advertisers are better able to specifically  segment consumers, what criteria will be permissible when serving ads?

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