Twitter Does Some Ad-Targeting Cleaning Up of Its Own

Twitter responded to a post in The Daily Beast by fixing a bug

Twitter became the latest social network to address issues that allowed ad targeting via derogatory terms

Facebook wasn’t the only social network forced to re-examine categories available for ad targeting.

Brian Patrick Byrne of The Daily Beast reported Saturday that advertisers on Twitter were able to target users who were “interested” in derogatory terms such as “n___er,” “wetback” and “Nazi,” adding that the social network’s ads interface turned up 14.5 million, 26.3 million and 18.6 million users, respectively, for those terms.

A Twitter spokesperson told Byrne, “We determined that these few campaigns were able to go through because of a bug that we have now fixed. Twitter prohibits and prevents any ad campaigns involving offensive or inappropriate content, and we will continue to strongly enforce our policies.”

Indeed, Byrne reported that when he tried duplicating his targeting efforts, they turned up zero users.

Facebook dealt with a similar issue last week, as Julia Angwin, Madeleine Varner and Ariana Tobin of ProPublica reported that topics such as “Jew hater,” “How to burn Jews” and “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world’” enabled potential advertisers to target nearly 2,300 users who expressed interest in them, and ProPublica was able to purchase three promoted posts that appeared in the News Feeds of those users.

Facebook responded quickly, as well, announcing in a Newsroom post last Thursday that it was removing what it referred to as “self-reported targeting fields” until it comes up with a way to ensure that categories promoting hate speech and discrimination do not pass muster with its algorithms.

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