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Meta intends to delete thousands of ad-targeting categories that are considered sensitive

Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, announced on Tuesday that it intends to remove advertisers’ ability to target people with promotions based on their interactions with content related to health.

The change, which takes effect on January 19, will have an impact on advertisers on Meta’s applications, which include Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, as well as the company’s audience network, which distributes advertisements in third-party apps. As stated by the Silicon Valley firm, the changes were made in order to limit the ways in which its targeting tools could be abused. Prior to the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation, these characteristics were being exploited to harass individuals with unsolicited messages.

Meta generates the vast majority of its $86 billion in yearly income via targeted advertising. As a platform for marketers to customise advertising, Facebook has succeeded in this area. Brands are often able to target their advertisements towards Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger users who are interested in themes as particular as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture or Catholicism. Such targeted advertisements have a higher probability of generating a sale, enticing people to join a certain Facebook group, or encouraging them to donate to a particular online charity than more generalist advertisements.

Advertisers utilised targeting techniques to push advertising for body armour, gun holsters, and rifle improvements to far-right militia organisations on Facebook before the assault of the United States.

Housing and Urban Development filed a lawsuit against Facebook in 2019 accusing the social media platform of allowing landlords and home sellers to unfairly restrict who could see advertisements for their properties that were posted on the platform based on characteristics such as race, religion, and national origin. According to a 2017 investigation by ProPublica, Facebook’s algorithms have developed ad categories for individuals interested in themes such as “Jew hater” and “how to burn jews.”

After receiving complaints about inappropriate advertising, Facebook gradually improved its ad-targeting technologies. To prevent marketers from targeting specific individuals, it eliminated 5,000 ad-targeting categories from its system in 2018. Following the publication of the ProPublica article, Facebook likewise removed the anti-Semitic ad categories.

However, Meta’s most recent modifications may be controversial with the millions of organisations who depend on the firm’s tools to extend their audiences and grow their companies, according to the company. Affordability and effectiveness of advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger are generally higher than those of traditional media such as broadcast television and other forms of media.

On Tuesday, both Republicans and Democrats slammed Meta’s modifications. A vice president at Majority Strategies, a digital ad-buying agency that mostly deals with Republicans, said in an emailed statement that Facebook has gone from being the “gold standard for political advertising”.

He acknowledged that the new measures would be controversial with some people, but he said that the corporation had determined that continuing on was the best course of action.

The new modifications do not imply that Meta is withdrawing from the ad targeting business. The business will continue to enable it for tens of thousands of other categories, which some critics claim would allow marketers to obtain targeting that is comparable to that provided by the themes that have been deleted. Meta went on to say that it will continue to employ techniques such as location targeting in its advertising.

The business also said that users, who are currently able to restrict their exposure to advertisements linked to issues such as politics and alcohol, would be able to begin blocking ads connected.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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