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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."

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Economy & Business

First look: Inside The New York Times' audio app

Via New York Times

The New York Times on Tuesday will open up its new audio app to beta testers ahead of a public launch next year.

Why it matters: The Times has built an audio empire, acquiring audio companies and investing heavily in new podcasts. But they're mostly distributed on apps like Apple and Spotify, limiting the ways The Times can experiment with new audio features for journalism.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
14 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."