Nov 18, 2021 - Technology

Facebook makes it easier for advertisers to avoid sensitive topics

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook on Thursday said it is expanding the controls it gives advertisers to make it easier for them to limit the types of News Feed content their ads show up next to. Excludable categories include news and politics, tragedy and conflict and debated social issues.

Why it matters: The move is part of a wider effort by Facebook to help advertisers avoid misinformation, hate speech or other content that may not be deemed "brand safe."

How it works: Facebook is testing a function that allows advertisers to select topics that may not be suitable for their brand.

  • Once selected, Facebook says those advertisers' messages will not be delivered to people "recently engaging with those topics in their News Feed."
  • Early testing found that this feature helps advertisers avoid aligning their messages in the News Feed against sensitive topics like news and politics, tragedy and conflict and debated social issues with high probability.
  • Facebook says this solution brings advertisers a step closer to having content-based controls for where their ads end up. "We see this product as a bridge between what we can offer today and where we hope to go — content-based controls," the company said in a statement.

In addition, the company says it's also making it easier for users to control what they see in their News Feeds, in part by making existing controls — like Favorites, Snooze, Unfollow and Reconnect — easier to access.

The big picture: Facebook has taken a lot of action to reduce the amount of politics in its News Feed in response to feedback from users and pressure from lawmakers and advocacy groups about issues like misinformation and hate speech.

What's next: Facebook says that before the end of the year, it plans to collaborate with third-party brand safety partners "to develop a solution to verify whether content adjacent to an ad in News Feed aligns with a brand’s suitability preferences."

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