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Facebook to block ad targeting based on derogatory terms and add more human reviewers, Sandberg says

  • Facebook will strongly enforce a block on the use of derogatory terms to target users with ads, wrote COO Sheryl Sandberg.
  • It will also add more human reviewers to look at its automated ad processes, as well as create a system for people to report ads that go against Facebook's standards, she wrote.
  • The changes were the result of a ProPublica story that revealed advertisers could reach Facebook users who were most likely to be "Jew haters," among other anti-Semitic terms and topics.

Facebook will work to prevent advertisers from reaching customers based on offensive and derogatory terms, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a post on her Facebook page Wednesday.

The company will stop any advertiser from targeting customers using topics that go against its company standards, Sandberg wrote. Non-approved targeting categories include anything that attacks people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or disabilities or diseases.

It was always against the rules, but Facebook will be employing more checks to stop offenders, she wrote.

Facebook found itself embroiled in a scandal when ProPublica discovered last week companies could place their ads in front of users who were most likely to identify as "Jew haters" and be interested in "how to burn Jews" based on their Facebook behavior. The categories were created by Facebook's automated system, according to the publication.

In addition, Facebook will be adding more human reviewers to oversee its automated advertising processes. The company temporarily blocked all ad-targeting terms after the ProPublica story but will re-add 5,000 approved categories, such as nurse or teacher. It also is working on a way for users to report any misuses of ads that go against Facebook's standards.

"Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed — disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this," Sandberg wrote. "Hate has no place on Facebook — and as a Jew, as a mother, and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate. The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate and a fail on our part."

See her post below: