The Atlantic

Could Facebook Have Caught Its 'Jew Hater' Ad Targeting?

“Facebook can monitor the things it does that make it money.”
Source: Stephen Lam / Reuters

Facebook lives and dies by its algorithms. They decide the order of posts in your News Feed, the ads you see when you open the app, and which which news topics are trending. Algorithms make its vast platform possible, and Facebook can often seem to trust them completely—or at least thoughtlessly.

On Thursday, a pitfall of that approach became clear. ProPublica revealed that people who buy ads on Facebook can choose to target them at self-described anti-Semites. The company’s ad-targeting tool allows companies to show ads specifically to people who use the language “Jew hater” or “How to burn Jews” on their profile.

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