Reporters find that Facebook targeted ads to 'jew haters'

The Facebook logo is displayed on their website in an illustration

In an email to Fox News, a Facebook spokeswoman said the anti-Semitic categories were "self-reported based on how people filled out their profiles".

ProPublica tested the claims by buying $30 worth of targeted ad space in the anti-Semitic categories. According to ProPublica, its posts were approved by Facebook within 15 minutes, and Facebook confirmed the organization's findings.

"There are times where content is surfaced on our platform that violates our standards". Moreover, Leathern shared that the company will add more guard rails and review processes to prevent similar issues to pop up in the future.

These repugnant "categories" were apparently created algorithmically because a small number of Facebook users listed them on their profiles under "interests" or "fields of study".

Only Wednesday, Facebook took another step toward cleaning itself up with an extremely thorough new set of guidelines to protect companies from having their ads appear on any kind of controversial content.

In the United Kingdom, a series of Conservative party attack ads were also sent to voters in a key marginal constituency, and activists captured the ads using dummy Facebook accounts, the Guardian reported in May.

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The news of these segments comes in the midst of Facebook's other ad controversy, which saw the company receive over US$100 000 from Russian ads during the 2016 United States election. ProPublica was unable to find analogous ad categories of different religions.

The potential for Facebook's advertising platform, which reaches 2 billion people, to be misused by bad actors has come under heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of the US presidential election.

When the news outlet looked for analogous advertising categories for other religions, such as "Muslim haters", it said "Facebook didn't have them". Facebook offers different targeting options, like location, and age, and interests. Using the ad targeting tools, advertisers on Facebook can reportedly target people who hate jews, like gang-rape, want to kill hajis (Muslims), want to burn Jews, follow Nazi parties, fantasize about "pillage the women, rape the village", kill Muslims radicals and other hate topics.

But the discovery adds to an intensifying focus on how various types of speech, including advertisements, flow through one of the world's dominant sources of information and social interaction.

This is another embarrassment for world's largest social media platform as it struggles with how not to be exploited by insidious people or groups and still stick to the task of what Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's likes to say as "connecting the world".

Leathern said in his statement Thursday: "We don't allow hate speech on Facebook".

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