The limitations of Facebook’s anti-discrimination policy and others like it
Facebook recently removed ‘Ethnic Affinities’ targeting on its ad platform, but contributor Andy Taylor notes that this update only addresses the most immediate and obvious ways discrimination based on ethnicity can be perpetrated.
Under pressure from activists and lawmakers, Facebook moved recently to prohibit using its “Ethnic Affinities” targeting in conjunction with any advertising for housing, employment or credit opportunities. This update is aimed at curbing discrimination against minority groups which have historically been subjected to prejudice in these areas.
The move has been heralded by most as a significant step toward combating prejudice in advertising for the social media giant, and it publicly makes clear Facebook’s position on the matter. However, like many efforts in the past to prevent discrimination, this update only addresses the most immediate and obvious ways discrimination based on ethnicity can be perpetrated.
To understand why, it’s important to know how online ad targeting works, and how advertisers can subtly discriminate in ways that are sometimes even unintentional.