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Social Networking Giant Facebook Apologises For ‘White Supremacy’ Ad

The Intercept report revealed that Facebook still has work to do to prevent extremists groups from spreading their hate-filled messages

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Facebook seeks to patent software to analyse who lives with you. Pixabay
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Social networking giant Facebook has apologised after letting an ad campaign target its users interested in “White genocide conspiracy theory”.

News site The Intercept had no trouble in launching the campaign just a few days after conspiracy theory about external forces trying to exterminate the White race purportedly inspired the man who killed 11 Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week.

Earlier this week, The Intercept was able to select “white genocide conspiracy theory” as a pre-defined “detailed targeting” criterion on the social network to promote two articles to an interest group.

The interest group, according to Facebook, comprised 168,000 users “who have expressed an interest or like pages related to White genocide conspiracy theory”.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

The ad which was labelled provocatively as “White Supremacy – Test” was approved manually by a member of Facebook’s advertising wing, the report said.

After the news site contacted Facebook for comment, company spokesperson Joe Osborne told The Intercept that the “White genocide conspiracy theory” category had been “generated through a mix of automated and human reviews, but any newly added interests are ultimately approved by people”.

“This targeting option has been removed, and we’ve taken down these ads. It’s against our advertising principles and never should have been in our system to begin with. We deeply apologize for this error,” the Facebook spokesperson said.

This is not the first time Facebook came under the scanner for its role in promoting hate speech through ad campaigns.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Last year, the investigative news outlet ProPublica reported that “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater’, ‘How to burn jews’, or, ‘History of why jews ruin the world'”.

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At that time Facebook promised that it would explore ways to fix the problem and assured the public that it was building new guardrails in its product and review processes to filter out such ad campaigns.

The Intercept report revealed that Facebook still has work to do to prevent extremists groups from spreading their hate-filled messages. (IANS)

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Facebook Investors Increase Pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg To Step Down

Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn

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Facebook investors want Mark Zuckerberg to resign: Report. Pixabay

Facebook investors have increased pressure on Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step down after a New York Times investigation suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors”.

According to a report in The Guardian on Saturday, Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President at Trillium Asset Management which owns a substantial stake in Facebook, “called on Mark Zuckerberg to step down as board chairman in the wake of the report”.

“Facebook is behaving like it’s a special snowflake. It’s not. It is a company and companies need to have a separation of chair and CEO,” Kron was quoted as saying.

The New York Times report suggested that Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative firm which did PR work for the social networking giant “and dug up dirt on the company’s competitors and its critics”.

In a press call, Zuckerberg denied he had any prior knowledge about this firm.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

“After reading the article, I got on the phone with our team and we are no longer working with this firm,” he said.

Definers allegedly “encouraged the depiction of Facebook’s critics as anti-Semites and had published news articles criticising Facebook’s competitors”.

Another Facebook investor Natasha Lamb from Arjuna Capital said the combined role of chairman and chief executive means that “Facebook can avoid properly fixing problems inside the company”, said the report.

According to TechCrunch, founded by a Republican campaign manager known for his dirt-digging prowess, Definers is far from a normal, politically neutral contractor.

In a statement, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also denied any knowledge of the firm.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg. Flickr

Facebook said that it used the consultant Definers Public Affairs to look into the funding of “Freedom from Facebook” to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, “but supported by a well-known critic of our company,” presumably liberal financier George Soros.

“To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue,” the company added.

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Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn.

As fallout of the report, Facebook stocks fell 3 per cent on Friday to $139.53, the lowest since April 2017. (IANS)