Meta plans to remove thousands of sensitive ad targeting categories.

Meta , the social media company formerly known as Facebook, said Tuesday it plans to eliminate the ability of advertisers to target peop...


Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, said Tuesday it plans to eliminate the ability of advertisers to target people with promotions based on their interactions with content related to health, race and ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation and thousands of other topics.

The move, which takes effect Jan. 19, affects advertisers on Meta’s apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger and the company’s audience network, which places ads in third-party apps. The Silicon Valley company said it is making changes to limit how its targeting tools can be abused. In the past, these features have been used to discriminate against people or to spam them with unwanted messages.

“We’ve heard from experts worry that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people from under-represented groups,” said Graham Mudd, vice-president. -President of Product Marketing for Meta.

Meta relies on targeted advertising for the bulk of its $ 86 billion in annual revenue. The company has excelled at giving advertisers a place to personalize promotions, with brands often being able to target their ads to Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger users who are interested in topics as specific as LGBTQ culture or Catholicism. . Such personalized ads often have a better chance of triggering a sale or getting users to join a particular Facebook group or support an online organization than more generalized ads.

But Meta has also faced a litany of complaints about advertisers abusing these targeting capabilities.

Prior to the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, for example, advertisers used targeting tools to guide promotions from bulletproof vests, gun cases and rifle upgrades to far-right militias on Facebook. In 2020, the auditors concluded that Facebook had not done enough to protect the people who use its service from discriminatory posts and advertisements.

In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urbanism sued facebook for allowing homeowners and sellers to unfairly restrict who can see ads for their properties on the platform based on characteristics such as race, religion and national origin. And in 2017, ProPublica found that Facebook’s algorithms generated ad categories for users interested in topics such as “hating Jews” and “how to burn Jews”.

In response to the abuse, the social network has refined its ad targeting tools over time. In 2018, he removal of 5,000 ad targeting classifications to prevent advertisers from excluding some users. Facebook also disabled anti-Semitic ad categories after the ProPublica report.

But the latest Meta changes can be unpopular with the millions of organizations that rely on business tools to grow their audiences and grow their businesses. Advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger that is finely tuned to people’s interests is often more affordable and effective than advertising on TV and other media.

“Like many of our decisions, it was not a simple choice and required a balance of competing interests where there was a two-way plea,” Mudd said. He added that some of the ad changes had been under discussion since 2016.

Augustine Fou, an independent ad fraud researcher, said advertising on Facebook and its other apps has long worked “better than any ad posted elsewhere because Facebook has years of people providing information, and that’s enough. precise “. He added that personalized advertising outside of the platform often relies on guesses that are “so inaccurate that when you try to target based on that you are worse than trying to spray and pray.”

Yet Meta has often struggled to leverage consumer data without abusing it.

“Of course, Facebook can infer that you are gay or that you are African American, but the question then becomes whether it is ethical to use these categories for targeting,” Mr. Fou said.

The new changes do not mean that Meta is exiting ad targeting. The company will still allow advertisers to target ads to users based on tens of thousands of other categories and topics. He added that he would continue to use tools such as geo-targeting.

The company also said it would allow users, who can already limit their exposure to ads on topics such as politics and alcohol, to start blocking gambling and weight loss promotions early in the year. next year.

“We continue to believe strongly in personalized advertising, and truly personalized experiences overall are at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Mr. Mudd.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Meta plans to remove thousands of sensitive ad targeting categories.
Meta plans to remove thousands of sensitive ad targeting categories.
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