Facebook will remove the ability for detailed targeting of ads for "sensitive" topics, including politics, health and religion, among other things, in a move that mirrors a similar ban for Facebook users under 18.
Beginning Jan. 19, 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to target users based on their interactions on Facebook with content and pages related to sensitive attributes. Facebook defines "sensitive" to mean targeting options "referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation." The company lists examples, including World Diabetes Day, same-sex marriage and Jewish holidays.
After the ban on targeted advertising for those under 18 was announced in July, advertising experts said that the change would not seriously affect Facebook's income or advertisers' outcome. Removing the ability to target ads for advertisers does not change the fact that Facebook's own news feed algorithms still opaquely decide who sees what ad, and the algorithms may do an equal or better job of targeting the audience desirable to the advertiser.
Facebook said in a blog post Tuesday that its latest move was made to "address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available."