It is becoming more difficult to target specific groups on Facebook. For society, it’s a good thing. For advertisers, not so much.
On Tuesday, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced announced that it would remove detailed targeting options such as “related to topics people may perceive as sensitive” as of January 19, 2022. The news is remarkable change to Meta’s golden goose, its advertising business, which stood for almost 98% of its global turnover in 2020, according to Statista.
Graham Mudd, Meta’s Vice President of Advertising for Advertising, said the change was made in response to concerns from civil rights experts and policy makers about advertisers like abused the targeting options Facebook provided. This is not the first time Meta has removed targeting options; it removed 5000 options to prevent abuse in 2018.
Mudd explained that examples of sensitive topics included causes, organizations or public figures related to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion and sexual orientation. Specific examples included topics such as “Lung Cancer Awareness Day”, “LBGT culture” and “Jewish holidays” among others.
He stressed that targeting options affected by the company’s policy change were not based on users’ physical or personal characteristics. Instead, these options consider people’s interactions with content on Meta products, such as Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
“The decision to remove these detailed targeting options was not easy, and we know that this change could adversely affect some businesses and organizations,” in Mudd. “Some of our advertising partners have expressed concern that these targeting options are disappearing because of their ability to help generate positive societal change, while others understand the decision to remove them.”
Some digital ad buying experts has said that this will have a negative impact on non-profit organizations and public affairs, which depend on ad targeting for fundraising, The New York Times reported.
Facebook has been criticized in recent years for allowing advertisers to use their platform to discriminate against or encourage certain demographic groups violence.
Back in 2017, ProPublica found that Facebook allowed ad targeting to users who expressed interest in heinous anti-Semitic topics such as “Jew-hatred,” “How Jews Burn,” and “History of” Why Jews Destroy the World. ” These topics were created by an algorithm, not by humans.
Meanwhile, in 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, ruled that seven companies, including major wigs such as Capital One and Edward Jones, had used Facebook to discriminate against women and older workers. The companies in question had used Facebook to post job advertisements aimed at young men, which meant that women and people over the age of 55 could not see them.
The EEOC ruled that the job advertisements violated the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Recently Facebook raised the alarm bells when Buzzfeed found that it displayed ads for body armor, weapon casings and other military equipment next to posts with incorrect information about The 2020 presidential election and news about deadly revolt at the Capitol on January 6th. The ads were shown to people who followed extremist content on Facebook. Days after the outlet reported the news, Facebook said it was break ads which promotes weapons accessories and protective equipment until after President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
However, Meta’s new policy change does not mean that advertisers can not target people on the company’s platforms at all. Mudd, Meta’s vice president of ad marketing, said the company was committed to helping small businesses, nonprofits, and advocacy groups reach the audience, and noted it they still had tools available to them.
These groups can, for example, use a function called “Engagement tailored to target groups” to reach people who have already liked their page or seen their videos, Mudd pointed out. Units can also use custom engagement audiences to create one local audience, or an audience that shares similar characteristics to your core audience. Location targeting, gender and age targeting, and companies’ own e-mail lists are still alternatives, i.a.
In addition to targeting restrictions, Meta also announced that it would give users more control and allow them to See fewer ads for certain types of content, such as gambling and weight loss.