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Facebook removes ad targeting options following housing board complaints

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Facebook will remove 5,000 ad targeting options for its American advertisers to prevent discrimination via advertising, the company said in a blog post. Facebook did not disclose the 5,000 options it removed.

Instead, it said that “While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

This action comes just days after the US Housing and Urban Development department filed an official complaint against Facebook for allegedly violating federal fair housing rights. On the same day, the US Justice Department said that Facebook should be held liable as a platform for the alleged discrimination.

Targeting options will be removed from the “exclusion” category. So targeting tools on “Ads manager” that exclude communities, people and groups from seeing an ad will be removed. Advertisers won’t be able to exclude people based on identifiers such as “Native American culture,” “Islamic culture,” and “Buddhism,” among thousands of others, Facebook told BuzzFeed News.

However, ads can be delivered to such groups by including them in the targeting option. Advertisers can no longer exclude those interested in such terms, although they can still target their ads. The company said that it has removed the options to “underscore the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination.”

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Certification for American advertisers

The company is also training its American advertisers to be “certification compliant” with its non-discrimination policy. In order to continue advertising on Facebook, the advertisers will need to complete this certification. “We’ve designed this education in consultation with outside experts to underscore the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination,” Facebook added.

Edit: The headline has been edited for accuracy

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