On Tuesday, Meta said that it will be removing "sensitive" ad-targeting options, such as advertisements based on interactions with information about ethnicity, health, religious practises, political convictions, or sexual orientation.
Recently, the firm, which just changed its name to Meta and earns the vast bulk of its revenue from digital advertising, has come under fire for its ad-targeting capabilities and regulations.
Meta listed examples of targeted categories that would no longer be permitted on its platforms in a blog post, including "Lung cancer awareness," "World Diabetes Day," "LGBT culture," "Jewish festivals," and political ideas and social problems. The move is set to begin on January 19, 2022, according to the statement.
Micro-targeting capabilities have been criticised by the corporation, citing abuses such as advertising discriminating against or targeting vulnerable populations. As part of a settlement over housing discrimination allegations, it agreed to make modifications to its ad platform in 2019.
"We've heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups," said Graham Mudd, the company's vice president of product marketing for ads, in the post.
Its targeted advertising capabilities are employed by a wide range of marketers, including political campaigns, social issue organisations, and companies.
"We know this change may negatively impact some businesses and organisations," Mudd said in the article, adding that some advertising partners were concerned that they wouldn't be able to utilise these advertisements to achieve good social change.
Advertisers on Meta's platforms may still target audiences based on their geography, leverage their own customer lists, reach custom audiences who have interacted with their content, and serve advertisements to those who have similar qualities as those users.
The move represents a significant shift in the company's approach to social and political advertising, albeit it is unlikely to have significant financial consequences. In 2019, CEO Mark Zuckerberg anticipated that politicians' advertisements will account for less than 0.5 percent of Meta's income in 2020.
Around the time of the US presidential election, the subject of political advertising on social media platforms, particularly whether or not the content of politicians' commercials should be fact-checked, sparked a lot of discussion among the public, lawmakers, and businesses.
In 2019, Twitter outright prohibited political advertisements, although Meta had previously stated that it would not impose any restrictions on how political marketers reached out to potential voters.
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it will offer individuals more control over the advertising they view early next year, including ones promoting gambling and weight loss. Facebook now enables users to opt-out of seeing ads linked to topics like politics and alcohol.
After his move, on Tuesday, Meta revealed for the first time the incidence of bullying and harassment on its platform, claiming that such content was seen between 14 and 15 times per 10,000 views in the third quarter.
They claimed that 59.4 percent of the 9.2 million pieces of content deleted from Meta for violating its bullying and harassment policies were discovered proactively.
"Bullying and harassment is a unique challenge and one of the most complex issues to address because context is critical," the company's global head of safety, Antigone Davis, and product management director Amit Bhattacharyya said in a blog post.