Not Just Facebook: Google Also Allows Ads Targeting anti-Semitic Keywords


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 reported on Friday.

In the case of Google, the company's ad platform even suggested potential advertisers run ads next to other, similar hateful phrases, like when it suggested an ad next to the phrase "jewish control of banks" when one types in "why do jews ruin everything".

Twitter found itself caught up in a similar controversy after the Daily Beast discovered that the tech company allowed advertisers to target people who were using keywords that included the n-word and "Nazi".

In addition to seeing these suggestions when it investigated Google's ad platform, Buzzfeed also purchased ads and ran a live campaign before alerting Google, which promptly disabled a number of the keywords involved.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, said in a statement that it had removed the ability to buy targeted marketing based on those topics and believed the use of the topics in ad campaigns had not been widespread.

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Soon after, The Daily Beast reported that Twitter too lets advertisers target users interested in hateful words and phrases, including "wetback", and "Nazi". As Buzzfeed noted in the report, Google's system is automatic and generates the keywords based on searching trends and websites linked to the initial keywords.

Google's ad-buying tool suggested going after individuals who searched for the phrases "Black people ruin neighborhoods", "Black people ruin everything", and "Blacks destroy everything".

For just $30, Facebook allowed three promoted posts to appear in the newsfeeds of almost 2,300 self-described "Jew haters", according to a report by ProPublica on Thursday. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected.

In response to the BuzzFeed piece, a Google official said the site had turned off the "offensive suggestions" and pulled the accompanying ads, vowing to "work harder to stop this from happening again".

Google's ad suggestions are developed by searches that individuals make on the platform. "That's not good enough and we're not making excuses", Ramaswamy said.