Facebook on Friday announced some changes designed to its "ethnic affinity" marketing solution following criticism that advertisers could misuse the tool.
The specific marketing solution, gives brands a way to reach multicultural audiences with more relevant advertising. However, the feature has come under fire from politicians and civil rights leaders for allowing advertisers to exclude users from seeing ads based on their race.
"There are many non-discriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads," said Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer.
Going forward, Facebook has decided to build tools to detect and automatically disable the use of ethnic affinity marketing for certain types of ads: Facebook will disable the use of ethnic affinity marketing for ads identified as offering housing, employment, or credit.
"We will continue to explore ways that our ethnic affinity solution can be used to promote inclusion of underrepresented communities, and we will continue to work with stakeholders toward that goal," Egan added.
Facebook will also offer more clarification and education by updating its Advertising Policies to be even more explicit and require advertisers to affirm that they will not engage in discriminatory advertising on Facebook. The company will additionally offer new educational materials to help advertisers understand their obligations with respect to housing, employment and credit.