Twitter fixed 'bug' that enables advertisers to reach racists


ProPublica, a nonprofit outlet based in NY, said it found the topics in Facebook's self-service ad-buying platform and paid $30 to test them with its own content.

Coming a day after it was reported that firms could tailor Facebook ads to users interested in terms like "Jew hater" - after which Facebook announced it would eliminate user-generated ad categories - the revelation that two other Silicon Valley titans offered similar targeting will likely further ignite a smouldering debate about hate speech and the tech industry.

The outlet found that typing "white people ruin" as an advertising keyword in Google's ad tool would elicit Google suggesting that an advertiser include "black people ruin neighborhoods" as another possible target.

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Like any other soulless capitalist behemoth, Google wasn't about to let Facebook corner the market on anti-Semitic ad widgets, and BuzzFeed reported Friday that the search/email tech giant also allows - and will even suggest - ad buyers to target some pretty racist keywords. ProPublica published a similar investigation on Thursday revealing that marketers could specifically target ads to reach anti-Semites on Facebook.

Not only that, Google will suggest additional racist and bigoted terms once you type some into its ad-buying tool, it said.

This campaign, which was viewed 17 times, was taken down by Google, but reportedly only after BuzzFeed sent Google a screenshot of the campaign.

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Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's senior vice president of ads, said in a statement that his team's goal is to stop the keyword suggestions from making offensive suggestions, and that its system does have language that should have alerted an advertiser that was attempting to use the terms in BuzzFeed's test. It tries to police ad targeting groups that violate its policies and said in a report that it removed 1.7 billion ads that violated its policies in 2016.

Buzzfeed was able to run ads for only some of the phrases, and Google pointed out that the vast majority were not available for purchase, although the oversight wasn't failsafe. "We've already turned off these suggestions, and any ads that made it through, and will work harder to stop this from happening again", Ramaswamy said. That's not good enough and we're not making excuses.

After finding this, BuzzFeed purchased the hateful ads and found that Google ran them.

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