Google allows advertisers to target people searching for racist and blatantly anti-Semitic keywords like "the evil Jew", "Jewish control of banks" and "Zionists control the world", Buzzfeed reported only a day after similar findings were reported on Facebook's advertising platform.
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According to Buzzfeed, who actively purchased ads tied to anti-Semitic keywords to test the world's biggest advertising platform, not only does Google allow publishers to link their content to racially charged search terms, it also suggests other ones.
For example, using Google's ad-buying platform, Buzzfeed found that when you target the search "why do Jews ruin everything", Google's system generated over 70 more keyword suggestions, ranging from "Jewish parasites" to "Jews ruin the world." As Buzzfeed noted in the report, Google's system is automatic and generates the keywords based on search trends and websites linked to the initial keywords.
Buzzfeed also found that typing in "White people ruin" as a potential keyword and Google's tool will suggest you linking the ads to searches like "black people ruin neighborhoods."
Google told Buzzfeed it is working to examine the tool's workings: "Our goal is to prevent our keyword suggestions tool from making offensive suggestions, and to stop any offensive ads appearing. 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."
Facebook this week stopped advertisers from targeting messages to people interested in topics such as "Jew haters" and "how to burn Jews" after journalists inquired about it, the news organization ProPublica reported on Thursday.
ProPublica, a nonprofit outlet based in New York, said it found the topics in Facebook's self-service ad-buying platform and paid $30 to test them with its own content. Another category it found was "History of 'why Jews ruin the world.'"
Along with Google, Facebook dominates the fast-growing market for online advertising, in part because it lets marketers target their ads based on huge volumes of data.
Facebook, the world's largest social network, said in a statement that it had removed the ability to buy targeted marketing based on those topics and believed the use of the topics in ad campaigns had not been widespread.
Reuters contributed background to this report