Sheryl Sandberg "disgusted" by anti-Semitic ad targeting on Facebook

Jonathan Leibson  Getty Images

Jonathan Leibson Getty Images

The move follows a ProPublica report that found advertisers could use terms such as "how to burn Jews" to target ads to people with those terms in their profile.

"We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way - and that is on us", Ms Sandberg wrote.

When ProPublica contacted Facebook about the anti-Semitic ad categories, the social media firm removed them, explaining they had been generated algorithmically. This is important because, as many people theorize and Sandberg suggests, the automated systems that come up with ad targeting groups such as "mothers", "people who live in San Francisco" and "birders" were likely responsible for creating a "Jew haters" category too.

Noting in the post that she is Jewish, Sanderg expressed disappointment that Facebook's systems allowed anti-Semitic and other bigoted language to be used in targeting ads, saying she is "disgusted by these sentiments". After restricting self-reported fields for education and profession, Facebook will now restore approximately 5,000 of the most popular responses, all of which have now been reviewed to ensure they don't violate company standards. "And we did not find it ourselves - and that is also on us".

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The information was declared in a document with the securities and exchange commission, which is accessible through this link . The price target set for the stock is $210.56 and this sets up an interesting set of potential movement for the stock.

Facebook said on Wednesday it was tightening its policies and tools allowing businesses to target ads to its 2 billion users. The company will add "more human review and oversight to our automated processes", she said, though Facebook did not immediately respond to queries about the specifics of their plans. More importantly, the ProPublica investigation focused on offensive targeting rather than offensive content, and information about how a given ad was targeted is not accessible to users. The chairman of the Senate intelligence committee said Tuesday that Facebook should testify as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the USA election, the company "seems to have been less than forthcoming" with Congress.

It's unclear if Facebook will also restore employer names.

Facebook also said it's working on a program to let people "report potential abuses of our ads system" to the company, though it didn't offer details.

You have to wonder: If there were more women or under-represented minorities on Facebook's engineering product teams, would this flawed ad tech have even seen the light of day?

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