Internet Giants Try to Rein in Automated Offensive Ad Targeting

The world’s largest digital advertising companies reined in their automated money-making machines after the systems were shown to spit out ads based on racist and other offensive information.

Facebook Inc. shut off a key self-service ad tool, while Google stopped its main Search ad system automatically from suggesting offensive phrases for targeting. The moves are the latest sign of rising scrutiny of the largest U.S. internet companies and how their software-driven services and ad businesses are influencing society.

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Google and Facebook Face Criticism for Ads Targeting Racist Sentiments
Google and Facebook, the world’s biggest sellers of online advertising, faced sharp criticism on Friday for allowing advertisers to direct ads to users who searched for or expressed an interest in racist sentiments and hate speech.

In response to two separate news reports exposing the issues, both companies said they would change how their systems worked.

The criticism began on Thursday after a report from ProPublica, a nonprofit news site, revealed that Facebook enabled advertisers to seek out self-described “Jew haters” and other anti-Semitic topics. The company responded by saying that it would restrict how advertisers targeted their audiences on the social network.

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