Meta Bans Advertisers From Targeting People on “Sensitive Topics”

The recently rebranded tech giant Meta has made the decision to ban advertisers from targeting people on “sensitive topics” – including race, sexual orientation and politics.

Meta has commented that it had recently made this “difficult decision” to stop advertisers from “abusing the targeting options we make available.”

While these targeting options are popular with advertisers, they’ve fallen under much criticism for the way they’ve been used – Sky News revealing that teens had been exposed via Facebook and Instagram to some highly charged political ads, The Children’s Commissioner calling out the practice of targeting such young individuals as “irresponsible.”

Graham Mudd, Meta VP, stated in a blogpost that the company will remove “detailed targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive”. This plan will come into effect on the 19th January 2022, and will include the following topics:

  • Health causes
  • Religious practises and groups
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political beliefs
  • Social issues
  • Organisations
  • Figures
  • Causes

Targeting options are based on the types of content users interact with when on Facebook, rather than their personal attributes.

While advertisers will no longer have access to these targeting options listed above, they will however still be able to target their ads based on other, less intrusive topics – including gender and age.

Mudd furthered his comments, acknowledging that the shift in their targeted ad regulations would cause challenges for certain advertisers, including advocacy groups and small businesses.

He states that “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 organisations they care about.”