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Facebook is temporarily removing the ad targeting option that let marketers reach ‘Jew haters’

Facebook plans to fix the feature, but it’ll shut it down until it figures out how.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg David Ramos / Getty

Facebook is temporarily removing some of its ad targeting options in the wake of reports that the site was being used to target people based on categories like “Ku-Klux-Klan” and “Jew hater.”

Reports surfaced Thursday that Facebook’s ad targeting algorithm was surfacing these inappropriate categories to advertisers. The problem is that Facebook allows advertisers to target people based on self-reported categories like field of study, school, job title or company. When users put “Jew hater” as their field of study, for example, that label was then appearing to advertisers as a legitimate way to target people with ads.

Facebook says it wants to fix that targeting process, but in the meantime, it will eliminate the ability to target users based on theses categories while it figures out what to do next.

“To help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes, we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue,” Facebook wrote in a blog post late Thursday night. “We want Facebook to be a safe place for people and businesses, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to keep hate off Facebook.”

This is not the first time one of Facebook’s software algorithms has been abused in the past year. Its News Feed algorithm, which determines what people see and don’t see in their feed, was gamed to help spread misinformation ahead of last fall’s U.S. election. More recently, it was discovered that “inauthentic accounts” from Russia bought $100,000 worth of political ads during the same election cycle.

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