Facebook, now known as Meta, announced its plans to remove advertisers’ ability to create targeted ads and promotions based on data including race, religion, sexual orientation, geographical location, gender, and political affiliation. These changes will also be implemented in Meta’s apps including Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
The removal of data based advertising is planned to take effect on January 19th. Meta explained the changes to its targeting tools are to limit targeted advertisement abuse. In the past, there has been huge controversy surrounding abuse of data by advertisers.
In one case, advertisers were using Facebook’s ad targeting tools to market body armor, gun accessories and rile enhancements to far-right militia groups on the platform.
In another instance, Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook in 2019 for permitting landlords and property sellers to restrict certain demographics from viewing their property postings based on users’ data like race, religion and ethnicity.
Meta vowed to involve outside parties who took part in the legal settlement, including the American Civil Liberties Union, to test its ad systems to ensure the removal of ad based housing discrimination. They have also agreed to meet with groups and experts every six months over the next three years to continue testing.
In response to complaints surrounding its ad targeting tools back in 2018, Facebook removed 5,000 ad targeting classifications to prevent advertisers from excluding certain demographics.
Graham Mudd, a vice president of product marketing for Meta, announced, “We’ve heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups.”
This is a drastic change to Meta’s business model as advertising accounts for $86 billion in annual revenue. This change is widely controversial as millions of businesses use the social network’s marketing and advertising tools to promote their businesses and expand their audience reach. Meta’s advertising technologies have proven more effective and affordable than traditional television commercials.