Last year, Facebook found itself mired in a fresh set of controversies after tools that could be used to discriminate against people on the basis of their race, were discovered within its ad-targeting services. In November, the company announced that it would be working to make changes to these policies and today, it finally has some news for us.
In a blog post announcing the changes, Facebook said:
Discriminatory advertising has no place on Facebook. Last fall, wecommitted to providing better education to advertisers about our prohibition against discrimination and to strengthening the procedures we use to enforce this prohibition. Today, we’re pleased to announce the steps we’ve taken in support of our commitment.
Facebook has always let advertisers target the audience best suited for their products. However, it failed to toe the line last year when it was discovered that it was also allowing advertisers to differentiate between users on the basis of their race. Doing so is not right by any standards and in the US, it is in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Following outcries, Facebook said that it would correct its policies and make them fair and unbiased on the basis of race — at least where housing, employments or credit was concerned. The company has since then been quietly at work towards making its promises come true and today, it has shared some of the fruits of its labor.
The company said that it had worked in close collaboration with policymakers and civil rights leaders and gathered their feedback about ways to improve its enforcement while also ensuring that the advertising tools remain useful.
The company’s new advertising policy clearly prohibits discrimination on the basis of personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.
The company is also linking out to various educational resources so that advertisers and other stakeholders can understand what is, and what is not right under the new scheme of doing things.
Apart from generating a clear, well-defined set of guidelines and increasing awareness, Facebook also said that it was testing a new set of enforcement tools that would allow the platform to identify and take action on ads that violate its policies in any manner. Particularly where housing, employment and credit opportunity ads are concerned, Facebook will disapprove ads that do no conform to its guidelines and include or exclude multicultural advertising segments.
Advertisers can request a manual review in case they think that their ad was blocked in error.
Finally, Advertisers will also have to self-certify that their advertisements are in compliance with Facebook’s policies, in case they are posting ads for housing, employment and credit and are targeting other audience segments.
The user will then have to read through the self-certification and agree that he/she will not use Facebook’s advertising tools to improperly discriminate in ways that are against the accepted guidelines
Finally, the company said that it will continue working with organizations in both the public and the private sector so as to deploy its advertising technology to promote inclusion and opportunity for under-served communities.
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