Facebook’s Ability to Exclude Racial Groups for Ads.Target Marketing or Racial Prejudice?

(Photo by Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s all agree that Facebook has become more than just a website that’s able to connect with your old college buddies and sending out requests for Candy Crush. It’s now an entity that connects people all over the world, with over 1.71 billion users worldwide with even an academy award winning movie made about the founders to boot. So it should be no surprise that Facebook is one of the best ways to advertise your brand and business to all those users.

Especially with a plethora of data from all those accounts, it seems easy for advertisers to be able to find their target market pretty quickly, and recently it seems that it might just be a little easier.

It’s discovered that there is now a feature in the settings called “Custom Audiences,” where the administrator of the account, is able to exclude users of certain racial and ethnic groups from their ads.

As found by Propublica, they pointed out that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 states that it is illegal “to make print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators of that act tend to get pretty hefty fines up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Despite the extremely controversial mindset aside, according to The Christian Science Monitor, “While critics call the targeting tool racist, the use of ethnicity in targeted advertising is typical for internet companies, particularly social media behemoths such as Facebook which have a huge vault of data about users’ demographics, location and preferences.” Which seems like a fairly neutral statement to have since it is true that advertisers for decades now have made ads that are targeted towards certain ethnic groups but have never formally said so.

If you ask me, I don’t agree that it’s the best way to grab your target market even more specifically, I think the person’s taste in media, brands and jobs already speak for themselves.

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism