Facebook And Instagram Will Stop Ads Targeted Based On Race, Politics, Or Religion

Meta (formerly Facebook) is removing ad targeting options across its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. It will no longer be possible to target ads to users based on race, political affiliation, or orientation. 

In a blog post Facebook’s VP of product marketing for ads says, “[…]we want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.” 

This move comes after years of criticism over the company’s advertising options. The specific targeting options that will be removed include: 

  • “Health causes (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”, “Chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
  • Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures

The company has made similar changes in the past. In 2016, the company removed options to hide ads from religious and demographic groups after ProPublica reported advertisers could exploit those options to discriminate in housing ads. 

However, changes to advertising targeting options are a double-edged sword. These changes make it harder for advocacy groups to reach their audiences. It’s not clear that these changes offer any benefit. But much like a new haircut after a breakup, or a name change after bad press, this certainly is a change.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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