Just a few days after Facebook was outed for doing the same for advertisers, Google and Twitter have been dragged into the same debate.
Google’s ad tech is the main contributor to its parent company Alphabet’s roughly $100 billion in annual revenue. It allows advertisers target search users by what phrases they type into the query field. A report from BuzzFeed News found something interesting today. It found that Google’s ad platform permitted advertisers to sell ads next to anti-Semitic and racist queries. These include phrases such as “Jewish parasite,” “the evil Jew,” and “black people ruin everything.”
It gets worse in the case of Google. The company’s ad platform even suggested potential advertisers run ads next to other, similar hateful phrases. It suggested an ad next to the phrase “Jewish control of banks. This was when one typed in “why do Jews ruin everything”. Buzzfeed also purchased ads and ran a live campaign after it came up with the findings. It then alerted Google, which promptly disabled a number of the keywords involved.
Shortly afterwards the Daily Beast reported that Twitter too lets advertisers target users interested in hateful words and phrases. This includes the N-word, “wetback,” and “Nazi. The targeting methods on Facebook and Google’s platforms were visible to only a few thousand people in the US. in the case of Twitter it is much more serious. This is because Twitter’s platform appears more far-reaching.
The Daily Beast also briefly ran its own ad campaign to test the company’s tools. It says Twitter’s platform shows 18.6 million accounts “likely” to engage with the word “Nazi,”. The N-word draws in another 14.5. For Twitter, the process seems entirely automated and there appear to be no safeguards in place. The Daily Beast tried a number of different hateful words and phrases and none were blacklisted by Twitter’s tools.