Facebook announced the ability for advertisers to target their campaigns based on a user’s employer and education will be removed from the advertising platform after it was found that advertisers could target discriminatory groups such as “Jew Haters” and “NaziParty” in their ad campaigns.
To address this, Facebook has removed these targeting fields, saying they will not be added back until the “right processes” are in place to prevent the issue. Emphasizing its focus on building a safe community, the post ends with “we want Facebook to be a safe place for people and businesses, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to keep hate off Facebook.”
How is it possible for this to happen?
In a Facebook user’s profile, there are many self-reported freeform profile fields — education and employer being two of the most prominent. These fields, along with dozens of other targeting options, are automatically fed into Facebook’s advertising platform and appear when an advertiser selects the options to target and conducts a search.
There is currently no process that prohibits users from entering offensive or inappropriate terms into their profiles, nor is there anything prevent these responses from appearing as targeting options for advertisers.
What does this mean to you?
Depending on your business, the impact of this can vary.
If you’re reaching a B2B audience through your Facebook campaigns, this could potentially damage the short-term future of your campaigns, as these fields are often critical to building a strong, business-focused target audience. However, advertisers with existing campaigns that use these targeting options (employer and education) are still in the ad set:
But, as expected, they do not have the ability to access these targeting options to add more fields. Before Thursday, both employer and job title existed under the “Work” section.
For advertisers relying on these targeting options to round off their 2017 marketing budget (like me, *raises hand*), it may be wise to develop a backup plan.
Although the post did say the removal was temporary, Facebook did not provide a timeframe for when advertisers could expect these options to return.