Improving Enforcement and Promoting Diversity: Updates to Ads Policies and Tools

Discriminatory advertising has no place on Facebook. Last fall, we committed to providing better education to advertisers about our prohibition against discrimination and to strengthening the procedures we use to enforce this prohibition. Today, we’re pleased to announce the steps we’ve taken in support of our commitment.

Over the past several months, we’ve met with policymakers and civil rights leaders to gather feedback about ways to improve our enforcement while preserving the beneficial uses of our advertising tools. We heard concerns that discriminatory advertising can wrongfully deprive people of opportunities and experiences, particularly in the areas of housing, employment and credit, where certain groups historically have faced discrimination.

Our teams have worked closely with stakeholders to address these concerns by developing updates to our advertising policies, new advertiser education and stronger enforcement tools.

  • Updated Facebook Advertising Policies: We’ve updated our policies to make our existing prohibition against discrimination even stronger. We make it clear that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.


  • Advertiser Education: We also created a new section linked from the Advertising Policies, which provides additional information about our anti-discrimination policy as well as educational resources from government agencies and civil rights groups that specialize in combating discrimination.


  • Stronger Enforcement Tools: We’re beginning to test new technology that leverages machine learning to help us identify ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities — the types of advertising stakeholders told us they were concerned about. This will allow us to more quickly provide notices and educational information to advertisers — and more quickly respond to violations of our policy. Specifically, we’ve made these changes:
    • Disapproving ads offering housing, employment or credit opportunities that use our multicultural affinity segments: When an advertiser attempts to show an ad that we identify as offering a housing, employment or credit opportunity and either includes or excludes our multicultural advertising segments — which consist of people interested in seeing content related to the African American, Asian American and US Hispanic communities — we will disapprove the ad.


    • Requiring self-certification: When an advertiser attempts to show an ad that we identify as offering a housing, employment or credit opportunity and uses any other audience segment on Facebook, we will show the advertiser information about our updated anti-discrimination policy. We will then require the advertiser to certify that it is complying with that policy and with applicable anti-discrimination laws.



Future Work

Since committing to these changes last fall, we’ve heard from public and private sector organizations that want us to know there’s value in being able to reach specific groups with information about products, services, and causes that they might find relevant. Several organizations have asked us to work with them to help identify ways that our advertising technology could be used to promote inclusion and opportunity for underserved communities, while also protecting against discriminatory uses. We believe in the power of our advertising products to create opportunities for people from all backgrounds, so we are committed to working with these groups toward that goal.

We are grateful for the collaboration of many experts who have worked with us to develop these solutions, including New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman; Members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Chairman Cedric Richmond, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II, and Rep. Robin Kelly; the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham; Rep. David N. Cicilline, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; the Center for Democracy & Technology; the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; the National Fair Housing Alliance; the Brookings Institution; and Upturn.

Each of these stakeholders helped shape the changes we describe above. We look forward to their continued partnership as we work to strengthen our enforcement while increasing opportunity on Facebook.

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