Facebook Disables Education, Employment, Field of Study, and Job Title
Facebook’s user data has become an invaluable resource for ad targeting campaigns. The problem with ad targeting based on user-generated information, is that users have the capability to lie. As of now, Facebook does not have any screening procedures put in place for evaluating the user data published. The severity of this flaw was pointed out last Thursday when ProPublica released a report detailing information that put the spotlight on ad targeting campaigns reliant on highly offensive anti-semitic audience categories.
How does this happen? Why would Facebook approve advertising based on hate speech? This is where things get complicated. Facebook grouped individuals who shared these similarities into categories they felt would be beneficial for advertisers to target. While Facebook technically did approve of some distasteful categories, the automation of the process meant that they were entirely unaware of it. Facebook’s ad-targeting is generated by a computer-based algorithm, which only takes into consideration how many people have placed themselves within a certain category, not the specifics regarding the meaning of the information in said category. This resulted in Facebook listing these offensive categories alongside the more standard list of interests that advertisers typically tend to target.
They were quick to respond, and the results were as expected. They removed the hate speech fueled groupings to prevent further injury. Facebook knew this wasn’t enough because it wouldn’t prevent further issues from arising. The company went forward and made a change that has potential to greatly impact the targeting capabilities of its users. Advertisers will no longer have the option to target based on user-generated information in regard to the following categories; education, employment, field of study, and job title. This is the only solution for preventing issues from arising in the future. Until Facebook can integrate a system that not only groups individuals, but also screens them, this is likely the most viable option.
If they wish to reintegrate the removed targeting fields, Facebook has their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, so do advertisers. Companies find Facebook to be appealing, in terms of advertising, specifically because of its reach and ability to target very specific audience categories. By removing categories related to employment and education, ad-targeting options become more limited. ‘Limited’ should be the key takeaway. Facebook is still the most appealing advertising machine out of all the social media powerhouses. They are still providing the most information for social media advertising campaigns. The only difference being, this information must now be more carefully evaluated. There are still numerous ad-targeting options that can be just as effectively utilized. It is our job to discover exactly what these options are.
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