(JTA) — Allowing hateful terms as targeted advertising options was “a fail on our part,” Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg said in a post in which she also defended the general practice.
Sandberg also announced in the message posted on Facebook last week that the company is strengthening its policies and tools on targeted ads.
ProPublica, an investigative website, reported earlier this month that it was able to target ads at Facebook users who expressed interest in “Jew hater” and “how to burn Jews.” Facebook removed the categories after being alerted to their existence and said it would seek to prevent such categories from popping up for potential advertisers.
Sandberg wrote in her post: “Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed – disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this. 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. We removed them and when that was not totally effective, we disabled that targeting section in our ad systems.”
She defended targeted advertising, which allows companies to place ads based on demographics on the buying history of consumers, or on behavior and self-identification. Facebook relies heavily on algorithms to find and highlight content. “Targeted advertising is how Facebook has helped millions of business grow, find customers, and hire people,” Sandberg wrote.