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Google Allowed Advertisers To Target People Searching Racist Phrases – BuzzFeed News

Google, the world’s biggest advertising platform, allows advertisers to specifically target ads to people typing racist and bigoted terms into its search bar, BuzzFeed News has discovered. Not only that, Google will suggest additional racist and bigoted terms once you type some into its ad-buying tool.

Type “White people ruin,” as a potential advertising keyword into Google’s ad platform, and Google will suggest you run ads next to searches including “black people ruin neighborhoods.” Type “Why do Jews ruin everything,” and Google will suggest you run ads next to searches including “the evil jew” and “jewish control of banks.”

BuzzFeed News ran an ad campaign targeted to all these keywords and others this week. The ads went live and were visible when we searched for the keywords we’d selected. Google’s ad buying platform tracked the ad views. The issue is not unique to Google. On Thursday, ProPublica reported a similar issue with Facebook’s ad targeting system.

Following our inquiry, Google disabled every keyword in this ad campaign save one — an exact match for “blacks destroy everything,” is still eligible. Google told BuzzFeed News that just because a phrase is eligible does not guarantee an ad campaign will run against it. A total of 17 ad impressions were served before the keywords were disabled.

“This violates our policies against derogatory speech and we have removed it,” a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed News after being sent a screenshot of live ad campaign targeted to the search terms “Zionists control the world.”

Friday morning, following publication of this story, Google provided a second statement to BuzzFeed News from Senior Vice President of Advertising Sridhar Ramaswamy. “Our goal is to prevent our keyword suggestions tool from making offensive suggestions, and to stop any offensive ads appearing. We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected. In this instance, ads didn’t run against the vast majority of these keywords, but we didn’t catch all these offensive suggestions. That’s not good enough and we’re not making excuses. We’ve already turned off these suggestions, and any ads that made it through, and will work harder to stop this from happening again.”

This revelation comes as Facebook is scrambling to adjust its advertising platform which allowed marketers to target “Jew haters.” Facebook blamed the issue, first reported by ProPublica, on its software algorithms. The company said these targeting criteria emerged when people listed the terms under their education and employer fields of their profiles. Facebook Thursday night said it would temporarily stop offering advertisers the option to target by these self-reported targeting fields.

Google Allowed Advertisers To Target People Searching Racist Phrases – BuzzFeed News

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