After a report revealing how Facebook allowed advertisers to reach “Jew haters” in its platform shook the conscience of a large number of its users, tech giants Google and Twitter have also been accused of letting advertisers use their platforms to reach racists. 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. Not only that, Google will suggest additional racist and bigoted terms once you type some into its ad-buying tool, it said. “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’, the report said. Soon after, The Daily Beast reported that Twitter too lets advertisers target users interested in hateful words and phrases, including “wetback,” and “Nazi.”
These reports follow a ProPublica investigation that revealed this week how Facebook enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world”. Buzzfeed also purchased ads and ran a live campaign before alerting Google, which promptly disabled a number of the keywords involved. “Our goal is to prevent our keyword suggestions tool from making offensive suggestions, and to stop any offensive ads appearing,” The Verge quoted Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce, as saying. “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,” Ramaswamy said.
Reacting to The Daily Beast report, Twitter said that it actively prohibits and prevents any offensive ads from appearing on our platform. “We are committed to understanding why this happened and how to keep it from happening again,” Twitter told The Verge in a statement.