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Meta Will No Longer Allow Ads Targeting Politics, Religion, Sexual Orientation on Facebook, Instagram

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Meta, the newly named parent company of the social media giant Facebook, announced Tuesday that early next year, it will no longer allow its advertisers to target ads on topics related to politics or other sensitive issues, including religion. 

The Wall Street Journal reports the company said as of Jan. 19, it will no longer allow advertisers to highly personalize their messages to users on topics including politics, race, health, religion, and sexual orientation. 

Meta said it was a difficult decision because it believes the best advertising is personalized. Facebook's ad tools helped reap the company $86 billion in revenue last year, the newspaper reported. 

The new advertiser policy will be enforced on all of the company's apps, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook's Audience Network.

In a blog post, Meta Vice President Graham Mudd wrote: "Starting January 19, 2022, we will remove Detailed Targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive, such as options referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation."

Mudd also included examples of these sensitive issues:

  • Sexual orientation (e.g., "same-sex marriage" and "LGBT culture")
  • Religious practices and groups (e.g., "Catholic Church" and "Jewish holidays")
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures

However, The Wall Street Journal noted Meta is not banning all political ad-targeting. It will still allow campaigns to use publicly available data or their own email lists as ways to reach people on Facebook.

In addition, Meta will also restrict ads targeted around certain health causes, such as terms like lung cancer awareness, World Diabetes Day, and chemotherapy, according to Axios.  

The new policy taking away direct advertiser control of certain topics came a year after CEO Mark Zuckerberg overruled Facebook employees who called for tougher restrictions on such practices, according to The Wall Street Journal

As CBN News has reported, this is not the first time the platform's employees have been involved in controversial discussions with managers concerning the future of Facebook and free speech on social media. 

In October, the Wall Street Journal reported the platform's employees moved to censor or even ban right-wing news organizations like Breitbart even though their managers opposed such actions. 

The back and forth between the tech giant's employees and their managers on message boards were reviewed by the newspaper.  The captured conversations raise concerns that Facebook treats news outlets differently depending on their political point of view. 

The Journal's report centered on Breitbart, which some of the social media giant's employees wanted to eliminate from the platform's news tab last year during the protests set off by George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. 

Blatant Banning vs. Shadowbanning

Facebook's "Transparency Center" publicly admitted to its shadowbanning habits last month. The National Religious Broadcasters reports that Facebook's shadowbanning policy directly affects biblical messages on the platform. 

"The true extent of Facebook's content distribution policies remains cloaked in secrecy—but the platform's history of suppressing Christian views on sexual orientation and gender identity, abortion, and religious liberty may provide clues," says NRB policy strategist Noelle Garnier.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of