Facebook recently committed to creating a new process in which advertisers offering housing, employment, or credit opportunities will be diverted to a system that only offers a limited, more defined set of targeting options, which means a better chance that consumers will convert. The process was detailed in a report titled Civil Rights Audit, which published on June 30, 2019.
It details how the technology recognizes the difference between targeting ads for cosmetics or concert tickets and targeting ads for jobs, housing, or credit opportunities. The system restricts ad-targeting options for jobs, housing, or credit opportunities to help guard against discrimination or misuse.
Some might wonder how Facebook can continue to target ads and messages to site members with such accuracy. It’s easy. Too many people willingly give up their beliefs, thoughts and other personal information.
For example, take the person who set up a Facebook profile under her real name, but we will call her Jane Smith, She described herself as a graduate student in Germany attempting to research on Facebook what Huntington Beach residents like and dislike most about their city.
Smith, who had no other previous posts under that name, asked Huntington Beach CommUNITY Voice forum members to list the top five likes and dislikes. Her post appeared on July 2, starting with: “Hi. I had a question for locals of Huntington Beach … “ and by July 5, the post and all of the heartfelt reasons had disappeared. They had been taken down, along with the more than 100 comments made by those who took the time to respond.
During that short time span, marketers and advertisers targeting Huntington Beach residents have the opportunity to hone in on keywords such as “cost of housing,” “drug addicts,” “overcrowded,” “homeless,” “traffic” and “climate.”
It’s not clear whether the community moderator removed the post and the multitude of answers to Smith’s question or whether Smith removed it herself.
If the post had remained posted, Facebook would have had access to behavioral traits that marketers could use to target those who were posting, all based on housing and credit.
When the new system launches, targeting options will be limited. Facebook will not make any new terms available without first notifying the plaintiffs in the lawsuits (explained here) and giving them an opportunity to object.
The new housing, employment, and credit advertising system also places restrictions on location targeting. Certain ZIP codes and neighborhoods are known to have higher concentrations of one racial, ethnic, or religious group or another, so targeting ads by ZIP code or precisely defined geographic areas can result in ads being targeted along racial, ethnic, or religious lines.