Facebook has announced some changes to its Ethnic Affinity Marketing to stop discriminatory ads that target people by race or other controversial factors.

Through what Facebook called Ethnic Affinity, targeted ad practices started to raise some unsettling concerns because they allowed advertisers to exclude entire ethnic groups, thus discriminating by race.

ProPublica drew attention to the matter last month, raising some uncomfortable issues caused by Facebook's Ethnic Affinity Marketing.

Facebook Sued Over Discrimination

Three Facebook users even filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook earlier this month, suing the social network for allowing discrimination through targeted advertising. The lawsuit alleged that discriminatory ads robbed some people of employment or housing opportunities. Facebook's ad practices could also harm the LGBT community, as it also offers options to exclude people based on their sexual orientation.

Following great controversy, the class-action lawsuit and pressure from U.S. lawmakers, Facebook has now amended its Ethnic Affinity Marketing to crack down on discriminatory ads.

Facebook Ethnic Affinity Updates

The social networking company will no longer allow marketers who buy employment, housing and credit-related ads to exclude ethnic groups, Facebook announced on Friday.

Facebook reckons that policy makers and civil rights advocates have recently expressed concerns that some aspects of its Ethnic Affinity Marketing could be misused.

Such concerns revolved around the possibility that some advertisers might take advantage of Facebook's Ethnic Affinity solution to run discriminatory ads, particularly in employment, housing and the extension of credit, three areas where certain ethnic groups have historically faced discrimination.

"We take these issues seriously. Discriminatory advertising has no place on Facebook," says the company.

After meeting with a number of important leaders, hearing their concerns and their suggestions on how to improve Facebook support, the social network has come up with new solutions to crack down on discriminatory ads.

Less Exclusion, More Inclusion

Facebook promises to build new tools to automatically detect and disable the option of using Ethnic Affinity Marketing for ads that offer employment, housing or credit. At the same time, the company also pledges to look for new ways that its Ethnic Affinity solution can serve to promote the inclusion of underrepresented communities.

More Clarification And Education

The company will also update its Advertising Policies to state even more clearly that no discriminatory practices will be tolerated and require advertisers to specifically state they will not engage in any discriminatory advertising on Facebook.

Lastly, the company will offer new educational materials so that advertisers can better understand what obligations they have with regard to employment, housing and credit.

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