Facebook Working To Develop Advertising Algorithms And Protocols That Do Not Discriminate Or Target Specific Groups

Facebook indicated that it has been taking some big steps in ensuring that advertisements delivered through its multiple digital properties, did not discriminate or target specific groups. Although it may appear contradictory to Facebook’s business practices of offering advertisers tangible information about their targeted or intended audiences, the new rules and protocols reportedly prevent discriminatory ad targeting.

Under the terms of a settlement with the ACLU and several other civil rights groups, Facebook has been developing a few methodologies that help curb excessively targeted advertisements. Specifically, the social media’s giant’s algorithms and policies are been tweaked and reprogrammed to avoid excessive targeting and be more neutral in nature while delivering advertisements. Needless to add, such steps appear to go directly against Facebook’s core business of offering a wealth of relevant information about people to advertisers for sending out specific advertisements with a high level of engagement.

Facebook To ‘Limit And Eliminate Ad Discrimination’ In Three Distinct Steps:

Facebook noted that ads in the United States that involve housing, employment or credit can no longer be targeted based on age, gender, ZIP code or multicultural affinity. Moreover, advertisers and their messages cannot use more detailed targeting that connects to these categories. Announcing the fundamental changes that are bound to have a profound impact on Facebook and quite possibly its revenue as well, VP of Ads Product Marketing Graham Mudd described the changes as the next “milestone in our effort to reduce and eliminate discrimination.” Incidentally, there is a three-step process that Facebook claims it will follow to reduce and eventually eliminate “ad discrimination”.

The first step is the expansion and enforcement of the new policies across Facebook and its associated digital platforms. Facebook is reportedly expanding the enforcement of these rules beyond Facebook Ad Manager to encompass every other place where someone might buy ads to be displayed on Facebook. In other words, the Facebook Ads Manager app, Instagram Promote, the ad creation tools on Facebook Pages and the Facebook Marketing API (which connects with third-party ad-buying tools), will have the policy rules.

The second step is allowing scrutiny and audit of the ad library. Facebook is reportedly expanding its searchable ad library. The library was first created in response to concerns about political misinformation. The library will now include housing ads targeted at the U.S. audience. Any regulatory agency, civil rights group or even a journalist can check on how businesses are actually using Facebook to advertise housing. The ad library is essentially an archive that’s open for scrutiny. However, the specific portion of the library pertaining to housing will start archiving ads from December 4 onward. Although currently limited to housing ads, the library will soon include employment and credit ads as well.

The third and perhaps the most important step is educating advertisers. Mudd noted that Facebook is actively helping advertisers understand how to work within the new rules. It is quite evident that advertisers will have some reservations about Facebook’s fundamental change in policy regarding the use of the data about the social media giant’s active users. The change in policies will undeniably cause some confusion, and hence Mudd noted that advertisers are having to “relearn how to use the platform given these restrictions.”

Although reducing ad discrimination could pacify the civil rights group, Facebook has long used “reasonable and legal non-discriminatory advertising practices that use age- and gender-based targeting,” clarified Mudd. It is quite unlikely that such practices will end anytime soon.

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.

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Facebook Working To Develop Advertising Algorithms And Protocols That Do Not Discriminate Or Target Specific Groups

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