Tag Archives: ethnic affinity marketing

Kenneth Chenault Joins Facebook

Kenneth Chenault

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault has joined Facebook as its first African-American Board member. Chenault will officially join Facebook on February 5th after 16 years as AmEx CEO. 

Chenault, described by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the country’s most prominent African-American corporate leaders,” will become the first non-white member of Facebook’s board of directors. 

This move by Facebook is an effort  to address the diversity issues that face Silicon Valley. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer told the Congressional Black Caucus in October that Facebook would hire a black board member “in the foreseeable future.” 

Chenault has been a recruiting target for Facebook years according to Mark Zuckerberg. In a Facebook post Zuckerberg wrote, “I’ve been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve, customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand. Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades.”

Facebook, the worlds largest social network, is fighting to clean up its image when it comes to race. The company has faced withering criticism around its ethnic affinity marketing technology that allowed marketers to exclude minorities from ads related to housing. It is unclear how the Chenault hiring will impact this area.

 

 

Facebook Fights Ad Discrimination


Facebook is fighting back against advertisers that discriminate. The world’s largest social media website has been severely criticized for its ethnic affinity advertising tool. The technology, while not intended to be used as a discrimination tool, has been used for just that. Ethnic affinity has been used to advertise for jobs, housing and financial services carefully targeted to eliminate certain groups from seeing the ad. 

Ethnic affinity works by allowing advertisers to craft ads targeted to highy specific audiences. As a result many advertisers were using it to block the ads from being seen by minorities and other groups. The tool can weed out people by profiles that includes specifics such as race, gender, age, favorite movies, food preferences and geography.

The issue became known in early 2016 and lawmakers, civil rights groups and other advocates quickly pounced. The tool apparently violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits this type of discrimination.

Facebook annouced in November of last year it was going to makes changes to the policies that govern the use of the tool. Facebook’s  policies “make it clear that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition.” The company also announced that will help educate advertisers on anti-discrimination practices.

Facebook also annouced that it will use machine learning technology together with the new policies.  The technology will help identify advertisers that exclude users who show interest in African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic content on the site.

Facebook will still offer the ethnic affinity tool but ads offering housing, employment, and credit opportunities that include or exclude certain demographic groups will be disapproved. Ads  targeted toward another audience section will be prompted to certify that the advertisement complies with the new policy. Advertisers will have the ability to request a manual review of ads that get flagged under the new rules.

Breaking It Down

This is a great step by Facebook but discrmination is not so easily discouraged or defeated. The whole idea of advertsing is to reach a desired audience. But stereotypes are inherent in the mind of all people. This leads to the idea that certain groups are racially or culturally inadequate for a certain product or service. Permitting the marketer to specify who he wants to do business with is not exactly wrong. However, allowing the advertiser to exclude people based on inherent biases is wrong and creates the type of second class citizen that the Civil Rights Act was meant to eliminate.  This is a tough situation for Facebook and I respect their reaction. But, in all honesty, we as society need to to continue to work on how we see one another. Maybe social media can help. Maybe not. But one thing for sure, at least Facebook has not shied away from the fight.

Racism Online: Facebook Profited From Racist Ads

Facebook-logo-PSDFacebook has allowed advertisers to discriminate against people of color. As simple as that. The world’s largest social media site is also the greatest collector of personal information in the history of mankind. To profit from this data Facebook allowed companies to advertise to certain groups while excluding others. The result is that African-Americans and people of color couldn’t learn about certain jobs, housing and financial opportunities; i.e credit.

Facebook has labeled its ultra targeted advertising capabilities as “Ethnic Affinity” marketing. Concern has grown among policy makers and civil rights leaders that marketers have used “Ethnic Affinity” marketing to discriminate against minorities. 

Facebook assigns users an “Ethnic Affinity” based on the pages and posts they have liked or engaged with. Facebook claims it bans advertisers from discriminating against racial or ethnic groups. 

Advertising that excludes people based on race, gender and other sensitive criteria are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment. Yet Facebook has made it possible and profitable. According to The Verge last year Facebook posted revenues of $17.93 billion in revenue in 2015 up 44 percent from 2014.  Almost all of it came from advertising. Facebook earns $13.54 for every user, up from $9 in the same quarter last year and that includes African-Americans and other minorities.

Facebook’s “Ethnic Affinity”marketing has come under fire from federal lawmakers for permitting advertisers to restrict its ads. This is known as red lining and it was common during the pre-civil rights era.

Pro Publica, a non-profit independent news website, exposed the practice after it placed an ad for a housing-related event that deliberately excluded African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws acted by engaging Facebook with “serious concerns” about this discriminatory program.

Facebook users have filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against the social media behemoth. The group asserts that “Ethnic Affinity” marketing is discriminatory ad-targeting technology that violates the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California stated; “There is no mechanism to prevent ad buyers from purchasing ads related to employment/housing and then excluding based on these illegal characteristics.”  Facebook says the lawsuit is without merit and it will fight it.

However, Facebook has responded to the complaints and modified the discriminatory advertising program. Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy Erin Egan told USA Today, “We are going to turn off, actually prohibit, the use of “Ethnic Affinity” marketing for ads that we identify as offering housing, employment and credit.”

Facebook’s decided to change after discussions with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) and the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and the  Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Egan added that Facebook’s changes, in part, came from “constructive dialogue” with advocacy groups such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brookings Institution and Upturn.

Regardless of what Facebook says, it isn’t killing “Ethnic Affinity” marketing altogether. Instead, the company claims to be building tools that will automatically disable the targeting for ads that involve housing, employment or credit.

Egan went on to say that “There are many non-discriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads. We will continue to explore ways that our ethnic affinity solutions can be used to promote inclusion of underrepresented communities, and we will continue to work with stakeholders toward that goal.”

Breaking It Down

First of all I am a Facebook user. Ok so who isn’t? But I have some serious issues with Facebook and it’s totally corporate behavior. By corporate behavior I mean that Facebook has engaged in a behavior that it had to know was wrong at best and illegal at it’s worst. But by being a corporation it got away with this racist practice as long as it could, took the profits before getting caught, and then saying “Ok, you got us. Sorry. We’ll fix it.” This is blatant corporate behavior and it it was deliberate. How can a company like Facebook, with a genius at the helm and literally thousands of very intelligent employees not see “Ethnic Affinity” marketing being misused? I’m not saying that Facebook designed the program to be discriminatory but it was being used that way and they had to have seen it. But as long as the money was rolling in and no one was complaining then lets keep it going. This is simply inexcusable. Yeah sue ’em! Make em pay! This cannot be tolerated!