Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Specific Races, Target Others

(Photo Illustration by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

A new controversy has erupted over Facebook’s decision to enable advertisers to streamline their ads and search for customers by excluding people based on their “ethnic affinity.” Now, using simple drop-down menus, the advertisers that prop up the social network's $350 billion business can choose groups like "African-American" or "Hispanic" to exclude and target their ads on particular ethnic communities.

Following an investigation on the issue, ProPublica reported on Friday that it was able to buy a housing-related ad using the social network’s self-service ad portal, which gave it the option to exclude users with African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic “ethnic affinities” in the United States.

Here is a screenshot of the ad ProPublica purchased in Facebook’s housing category:

In its response to ProPublica’s report, Facebook stated that ‘multicultural advertising should be a tool for empowerment’ and added that the advertisers should use the given options in compliance with the law of the country that they use it in.

Pointing out an example of micro-targeting being used successfully, Facebook said:

When World Cup 2014 became a big focus throughout the US Hispanic community, a business developed a campaign to reach people who had shown interest in that community in order to create a positive association between its brand and the world’s most popular sport. This meant more relevant ads to those audiences about the World Cup.

Talking to the Atlantic, Facebook’s spokesperson said the ad placed by ProPublica was not promoting a property, but an event about renters’ rights.

Under the Civil Rights Act of the United States, preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is unlawful. Exclusion of specific races in a housing-related ad is also a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act of the United States.

With Inputs From RT.

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