Facebook will no longer allow advertisers to target or exclude different races in ads related to housing, employment and credit, the company said Friday.
Facebook’s tool allowing advertisers to target or exclude groups based on “ethnic affinity” came under scrutiny last month when ProPublica published a report detailing how the tool allowed the news organization to post an ad for a housing event that excluded African-Americans. That type of exclusion is illegal under federal law in ads related to housing and employment, although Facebook claimed its “ethnic affinity” category only grouped users by interest in a certain race, and not by users’ race itself.
Facebook will not stop the practice of “ethnic affinity” marketing entirely.
Instead, Facebook said Friday that it would build tools to disable ethnic affinity marketing for ads for housing, employment and credit, clarify its advertising policies and “provide more education” for businesses and other advertisers. Facebook will also move the “ethnic affinity” category from its “demographics” section to a “behavior” section seen by advertisers.
“We are making these changes to deter discrimination and strengthen our ability to enforce our policies,” Facebook Vice President of U.S. Public Policy Erin Egan wrote in a blog post.