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Facebook removes anti-Semitic ad categories

Facebook said it will no longer let advertisers reach users who have said they are interested in anti-Semitic topics, including "how to burn Jews," or called themselves "Jew haters," ProPublica reports.

Facebook said the categories were created by an algorithm, not employees, so they are generated automatically based on information users share with Facebook and their interests. ProPublica, acting on a tip, decided to test the system, and spent $30 on promoted posts using categories like "Nazi Party," "Jew hater," and "Hitler did nothing wrong." After selecting their audience, ProPublica submitted their ad, promoting an unrelated ProPublica article, and it was approved by Facebook within 15 minutes.

After being contacted by ProPublica, Facebook removed the categories, and the company said it would work on fixing the issue by limiting the number of categories and checking ads before they are published. Regarding the anti-Semitic categories, Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said they "looked at the use of these audiences and campaigns and it's not common or widespread." Last week, Facebook revealed it found out that during the 2016 presidential election, fake accounts that appeared to be linked to Russia spent $100,000 on politically divisive ads.