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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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.