In an effort to prevent people from using their ad targeting means to discriminatory ends, Facebook is planning to remove 5000 of their ad targeting filters.

Facebook hasn’t yet stated exactly which filters are being removed, but they have let on that the filters they are removing are to stop people from being unfairly excluded or included in certain advertising efforts, specifically by ethnic or religious attributes.

While it is possible to use user variables such as religion and ethnicity for legitimately useful reasons, many advertisers are using them in a way that violates Facebook’s policies – such as landlords excluding audiences based on ethnicity and religion when advertising apartments – something Facebook came under fire for within the last year.

In addition to revising their ad targeting options, Facebook are also rolling out a mandatory certification that all advertisers will need to attain to prove they are in compliance with Facebook’s non-discrimination policies. While this certification has already been around for over a year, it’s now going to become mandatory for advertisers in all industries. Previously it was required for only those advertising in the housing, employment or credit related advertisers.

Why Should You Care?

If your business operates in one of the three main industries affected, take note. If you’ve been targeting users in a way that violates Facebook’s policies: stop that. If you’ve been colouring within Facebook’s lines, so to speak, keep up the good work, and take note of the more stringent approach Facebook’s taking to its own advertising standards.

If you advertise on Facebook outside of the housing, employment or credit industries, this development is still a good insight into Facebook taking privacy and ethical advertising seriously, especially in the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytical scandal, and the drop in ad spend that followed the debacle: Facebook is doing its bit to remain a crucial component in online advertising.

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