Facebook is working hard to clean up its public image after being involved in several scandals over the last year. The largest social media network has toughened its policies against fake news, fake accounts and political content. The most recent addition to Facebook’s plan to make their platform safe and inclusive for everyone is a new set of rules against discrimination.
Facebook Ads Targeting Leads to Discrimination
The core issue of the new rules and deadlines is the way certain advertising use audience targeting and profiling to exclude specific categories of users. This is problematic when the ads are for housing, credit and employment, and the exclusions refer to race, gender and geographical location.
Back in March 2019, Facebook entered into several agreements with US based civil rights associations and vowed to do more to fight against any form of discrimination in advertising. In a blog post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated:
“Housing, employment and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people. Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company.”
The New Rules for Facebook Ads for Housing, Credit and Employment
The new conditions set for Facebook advertising for these special categories of ads refer to targeting audiences based in the United States of America. They apply to Facebook ads purchased through third party platforms and tools (that use the Facebook Marketing API).
Actually, the Marketing API now has a new category, called Special Ad Category, which must be selected for these types of ads.
Under these new conditions and restrictions for Special Ad Category:
- Housing, employment and credit ads can no longer target users by age, gender and ZIP code;
- The same ads will have limited targeting categories available to use;
- Multicultural affinity targeting becomes unavailable for Special Ad Category;
- Any detailed audience targeting that Facebook considers related to protected classes will be unavailable.
While the changes to Facebook ads for housing, credit and employment have been announced for some time now, definite deadline for enforcement have just been announced. They are as follows:
- The 11th of February – all active campaigns created before the 4th of December 2019 and which belong to a Special Ad Category must be identified as such and comply with the new rules;
- The 31st of March – by this date all new campaigns for Facebook ads for credit, housing and employment targeted at US audiences must be defined as Special Ad Category and comply with the new audience selection criteria.
If advertisers fail to comply with the rule by these deadlines, then their Facebook ads will no longer be allowed to run. No other penalties are announced for failure to comply.
Are You Affected by the Special Ad Category Rules and Deadlines?
As we stated above, the new rules apply for third-party purchased Facebook ads targeted to US audiences and/or created by US based companies. As an Australian based company, you are bound to comply with the rules and deadlines if you are running ads:
- On behalf of a US-based company offering credit, housing or employment services;
- That target Facebook users located in the United States of America.
However, it is to be expected that this rule may extend in time to other territories, offering protection from discrimination to more people. As soon as there are developments or new additions to the new anti-discrimination policy, we will inform you of such changes.