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Facebook to prevent ads targeting people on sensitive topics

Facebook parent Meta announced it will no longer allow advertisers to target people based on "sensitive" topics, in a decision it described as "difficult".

Facebook to prevent ads targeting people on sensitive topics
Photograph: Glen Carrie on Unsplash.

Meta’s vice president for marketing and ads, Graham Mudd, said the change, which relates to topics including sexual orientation and political beliefs, will take effect from January 19th, 2022. The company said advertisers will still be able to target adverts based on age, gender, and location.

Sensitive topics which will be curtailed to advertisers include health causes, sexual orientation, religious communities and practices, political creeds, and social issues and causes.

“We’ve heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups,” said Mudd writing in the Meta for Business blog.

Mudd acknowledged, however, that the changes could be detrimental to some charitable causes and advocacy groups.

He pointed out that some of the company’s “advertising partners have expressed concerns about these targeting options going away because of their ability to help generate positive societal change, while others understand the decision to remove them.

“Like many of our decisions, this was not a simple choice and required a balance of competing interests where there was advocacy in both directions.

"We feel confident that we can evolve our ads system to meet the needs of everyone we serve, while working diligently to continue supporting one of the best things about our platforms - helping people connect with and discover the businesses and organizations they care about."

Mudd added: "Today, people can opt to see fewer ads related to politics, parenting, alcohol, and pets.

"Early next year, we will be giving people control of more types of ad content, including gambling and weight loss, among others."

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