By: William Branch
Straight Outta Compton (2015) was a huge commercial and critical success upon release back in August 2015. Its’ advertising was plastered on print publications, outdoor billboards and, most importantly, internet websites like Facebook. According to an article by Alex Hern, a relatively new (as of November 2014) Facebook ad feature known as ‘ethnic affinity’ was utilized by Universal (Straight Outta Compton’s distributor) to determine which trailer would be presented to a particular audience; based on the viewer’s race. The feature was criticized as a form of racial profiling by Human Rights’ groups and as of Friday, November 11th Facebook announced that they would deny the feature to advertisers that promote industries that have a history of racial discrimination.
Those industries being Housing, Employment and Credit Offers.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s VP of US Public Policy and Chief Privacy Officer, addressed the policy change in a blog released on Friday. Stating a need to “Offer more clarification and education” in order to restrict advertisers from using discriminatory advertising on Facebook, Egan looks to combat discrimination and increase opportunity.
Photo Cred: ProPublica
An example, featured above, of how advertisers could utilize ethnic affinity to discriminate against persons of color.
This is a huge step in the right direction for Facebook. Especially in this day and age of Facebook groups, pages and feeds. It enforces fair, advertising practices geared towards all members of Facebook’s community.
I personally do not use Facebook as often as I used to, but I have close family and friends that do. As an African-American I am aware of the well-known jokes referencing a strong correlation between African-Americans and low credit scores. Realizing how damaging of an assumption that can be, I am happy to see that the malicious practices akin to ‘digital Jim Crow’ are being rooted out. Facebook, I tip my hat to thee.
Grenoble, Ryan. “Facebook Plans To Crack Down On Some Race-Based Advertising Techniques.” HuffingtonPost, 11 Nov. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/facebook-racial-targeting-ads_us_5825e2ffe4b060adb56e0934?utm_hp_ref=social-media. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.
Angwin, Julia and Parris, Terry Jr. “Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users By Race.” ProPublica, 28 Oct. 2016, https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-lets-advertisers-exclude-users-by-race. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.
Hern, Alex. “Facebook’s ‘Ethnic Affinity’ Advertising Sparks Concerns Of Racial Profiling.” TheGaurdian, 22 March 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/22/facebooks-ethnic-affinity-advertising-concerns-racial-profiling. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.