Meta removing sensitive ad-targeting options

Meta, formerly Facebook, announced the removal of sensitive ad-targeting options, such as advertisements based on interactions with information on ethnicity, health, religious practises, political views, or sexual orientation. In recent years, the newly renamed Meta, which derives the majority of its revenue from digital advertising, has been chastised for its ad-targeting techniques and rules. The changes would take effect on January 19, 2022.

In a blog post, Meta listed several targeted categories that would no longer be permitted on its platforms, including “Lung cancer awareness,” “World Diabetes Day,” “LGBT culture,” “Jewish festivals,” and political and social convictions.

“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,” said Graham Mudd, the company’s vice president of product marketing for ads, in the post.

The company has been criticized for its micro-targeting capabilities, and there have been allegations of advertisers discriminating against or targeting vulnerable groups. As part of a settlement over housing discrimination allegations, it agreed to make improvements to its ad platform in 2019.

Meta’s ad features are used by a broad group of advertisers, including political campaigns, social issue groups, and enterprises. Advertisers on Meta’s platforms will continue to be able to target audiences based on their geography, leverage their customer lists, reach custom audiences who have engaged with their content, and deliver ads to those who have similar qualities as those users.

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