Noah Berger / AP

Facebook is making changes after it emerged that offensive self-reported demographic information, like "jew haters," could be used to target ads within Facebook's automated advertising system.

In a personal post, COO Sheryl Sandberg announced the company is strengthening its ads targeting policies and tools.

The steps include "clarifying" ad policies, "tightening" enforcement, limiting the targeting options to 5,000 commonly-used terms, and creating a program to report issues with ads.

Why it matters: Ad buyers love Facebook because it's very efficient: It's cheap (although getting more expensive), and very effective in targeting the right people with the right format. It can be efficient because of its massive scale, both in the people it can reach and the data it can gather and let marketers use to target people. Clamping down on targeting terms and tightening controls limits Facebook's efficiency for marketers with bad intentions and ensures that Facebook remains a brand-safe environment both for its advertisers and publishers.

Our thought bubble: This is an especially poignant message coming from Sandberg, a revenue expert, who repeatedly reminds investors on earnings calls that Facebook's top priority is to help marketers execute effective ad campaigns. Facebook's willingness to clean up targeting terms in its system shows that they take this issue seriously.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Microphones will be muted during parts of Thursday's presidential debate

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates adopted new measures on Monday to mute the microphones of President Trump and Joe Biden to allow each candidate two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment during Thursday night's debate.

Why it matters: During September's chaotic debate, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times, while Biden interrupted Trump 22 times.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court denies Pennsylvania GOP request to limit mail-in voting

Protesters outside Supreme Court. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania's Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court's 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day.

Why it matters: It's a major win for Democrats that could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. The court's decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.