Facebook has once again been made to apologize. This time the reason was its dangerously faulty system which approved a white supremacist ad campaign. Social media, especially Facebook, has been under constant fire for consumer data privacy concerns as well as issues of hate speech and misinformation. The controversy was as a result of news agency The Intercept being successful in launching an ad campaign for select users. This group of users was categorized by Facebook as the people who have shown interest in the absurd term ‘white genocide.’
It is a widely known fact that far-right extremists over the world have used the imaginary phenomenon of a possible ‘white genocide’ to incite violence against other races. The most shocking aspect of this entire debacle has been that only days ago, a white supremacist was radicalized by similar propaganda on social media. That person went on to scream “All Jews must die!” before shooting in a Synagogue killing eleven worshippers and injuring dozens more. It is frightening that it has only been a week to the Pittsburgh massacre and any hatemonger can so easily start an official ad campaign attracting white supremacists uniting them under a platform. The Intercept was able to launch the promotion aimed at 168,000 Facebook users.
The most notable criticism for this dangerous lack of professionalism by came from UK Member of Parliament Damian Collins.
He is the chair of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. In a tweet, Collins wrote:
“Again, this is appalling and irresponsible – Facebook allowed advertisers to target users interested in “white genocide” — even in wake of Pittsburgh massacre.”
In an interview to BBC, Collins also added:
“Once again, the site has only taken action when someone else has brought it to their attention. The Facebook ad check service is currently operating far below the standards we should expect from a company of that size and wealth.”
Only a year ago, one bombshell revealed by ProPublica told the world that on Facebook it was possible for anyone to create a targeted ad campaign using slogans as offensive as ‘Jew-haters.’
When the report went viral, Facebook responded by pledging to add human reviewers to its advertising system. The company also asserted it was already working on building new guardrails to prevent any similar incidents from happening in future. Now once again, The Intercept has proven that not much has changed.
Immediately after The Intercept made its report known, Facebook deleted the category of 168,000 users who liked the idea of ‘white genocide.’ Facebook has also argued that this reveal is not similar to the one made by ProPublica. This claim is made considering the fact that this category was not created by any Facebook users but by the algorithm.
However, it is globally known that Mr. Zuckerberg was in front of the US Senate only months ago. His social media app had been accused of being used as the medium by Cambridge Analytica to meddle with the 2016 US elections. Also considering the unfortunate fiasco where Twitter had to apologize after ‘kill all Jews’ was on the trending section, social media giants need to seriously consider what they are putting out.