Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for hurting and dividing people through his social media platform and said he would work to do better.
In a post written after Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, concluded on Sunday, Zuckerberg said, “We reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness for our mistakes. For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better.
“For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better. May we all be better in the year ahead, and may you all be inscribed in the book of life.”
Last month, after reports surfaced that the social media giant enabled advertisers to reach “Jew haters”, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — also of Jewish origin — apologised, saying the company was now strengthening its ad policies.
Facebook enabled the advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater”, “How to burn Jews” or “History of why Jews ruin the world”, a ProPublica investigation revealed.
“The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate and a fail on our part. We removed them and when that was not totally effective, we disabled that targeting section in our ad systems,” Sandberg wrote in a blog post.
Facebook temporarily disabled some of its ads tools following news reports that slurs or other offensive language could be used as targeting criteria for advertising.
“If someone self-identified as a ‘Jew-hater’ or said they studied how to burn Jews in their profile, those terms showed up as potential targeting options for advertisers,” the Facebook COO wrote.
“Seeing those words made me disgusted and disappointed – disgusted by these sentiments and disappointed that our systems allowed this. Hate has no place on Facebook and as a Jew, as a mother and as a human being, I know the damage that can come from hate,” she stressed.
“We are announcing that we are strengthening our ads targeting policies and tools,” Sandberg posted on Facebook.
Facebook is clarifying its advertising policies and tightening its enforcement processes to ensure that content which goes against its community standards cannot be used to target ads.
This includes anything that directly attacks the people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or disabilities or diseases.