Facebook’s parent company will no longer allow advertisers to target people based on sensitive topics, including politics, race and sexual orientation.
The tech giant – which recently changed its name to Meta – said it made the “difficult decision” to prevent advertisers from “abusing the targeting options we make available”.
Meta VP Graham Mudd said in a blogpost the platform will remove the “detailed targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive” from 19 January, 2022.
These include: health causes, sexual orientation, religious practises and groups, and political beliefs, social issues, causes, organisations, and figures.
Advertisers will still be able to target adverts based on topics, such as age, gender and location.
However, Mr Mudd acknowledged the change would cause difficulties for some advertisers, such as small businesses or advocacy groups as they will no longer be able to target advertising for causes such as same-sex marriage, World Diabetes Day, or Jewish holidays.
He wrote: “Some of our 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.”
Targeting options are not based on a user’s demographics or personal attributes – such as their own religious belief or sexuality – but are based on what content they interact with on Facebook.
Mr Mudd added: “Today, people can opt to see fewer ads related to politics, parenting, alcohol, and pets.
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“Early next year, we will be giving people control of more types of ad content, including gambling and weight loss, among others.”
While the targeting options have been popular with advertisers, they have also fallen under criticism.
In 2019, Sky News discovered hundreds of highly charged political ads had been shown to teenagers on Facebook and Instagram.
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