Published On: Mon, Nov 14th, 2016

Facebook Responds To Accusations of Racism — Updates ‘Ethnic Affinity Marketing’

That's one headache solved for Facebook and a whole bunch to go.


Facebook is taking action in response to accusations of racism in its targeted marketing system. Called “Ethnic Affinity Marketing, ” the program allows advertisers to know that their ads reach only the desired target audiences.

But the Facebook system has been called racist by some since it allows advertisers to also prevent certain ethnic groups or races from seeing ads for jobs or housing. (See full report here.)

So what will Facebook do to change the system? First it will block Ethnic Affinity from being used in any advertisements related to jobs, housing or credit. This will take care of the biggest complaint.

The company is also promising to offer more clarification and education on the matter. Facebook states that it will update its Advertising Policies to “be even more explicit” and that it will require advertisers to affirm that they will not engage in discriminatory advertising on Facebook. They will also offer new educational materials to help advertisers understand their obligations with respect to housing, employment and credit.

Erin Egan, Facebook’s VP, US Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer, said in a blog post, “Over the past several years, we’ve worked to build ways for advertisers to reach a diverse range of audiences on Facebook. One example of this is our “ethnic affinity” marketing solution, which gives brands a way to reach multicultural audiences with more relevant advertising. Our policies strictly prohibit discriminatory uses of this solution. Today, we’re announcing some additional changes designed to better enable us to enforce these policies.”

He added that Facebook is, “making these changes to deter discrimination and strengthen our ability to enforce our policies. We look forward to finding additional ways to combat discrimination, while increasing opportunity, and to continuing our dialogue with policymakers and civil rights leaders about these important issues.”

Hopefully for Facebook this will end the complaints about racism. But the company is still reeling from accusations over biases in its news feeds and is currently being sued for falsifying the trafficking data provided to potential advertisers. Data about volume of traffic to certain pages is used to set advertising fees.

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