Tuesday 23 April 2019

Facebook to change 'harmful' ad platform after complaints

Social media

Facebook has agreed to change its paid advertising platform (stock photo)
Facebook has agreed to change its paid advertising platform (stock photo)

Murray Kerchavel

Facebook has agreed to change its paid advertising platform as part of a wide-ranging settlement to prevent discriminatory and "harmful" practices, the company and US civil rights groups have said.

Under the agreement, Facebook will create a new advertising portal for ads linked to housing, employment and credit ads that will limit targeting options for those ads across all of its services, including Instagram and Messenger, the rights groups said.

Advertisers on the portal, which will be separate from the system used to advertise other sets of services, will not be able to target ads by age, gender, cultural affinity or zip code, the statement said.

They will also be required to use a minimum geographic radius for location-based targeting to prevent the exclusion of certain communities.

In addition, the company pledged to build a tool allowing users to search all current housing ads listed in the United States, regardless of whether the ads were directed at them.

The move comes after it was revealed that Irish people looking up information online about sensitive medical issues including abortion and sexual infections have been tracked by private companies because the HSE includes what's described as a privacy 'Trojan Horse' in its own webpages.

Tracking was possible because of the HSE's inclusion of 'ShareThis' buttons on almost all of its pages. They link the pages to the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, often using the social media giants' logos as the button to click.

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