A new research paper written by a team of academics and computer scientists from Spain and Austria has demonstrated that it’s possible to use Facebook’s targeting tools to deliver an ad exclusively to a single individual if you know enough about the interests Facebook’s platform assigns them.

Source: Researchers show Facebook’s ad tools can target a single user | TechCrunch

I have past posts on how the Facebook ad system has been used to discriminate based on race, sex and age.

Advertisers on Facebook have previously been caught targeting ads to specific ethnic and age groups. Job ads are frequently constructed in a way to avoid being displayed to anyone over, say, age 35, or to avoid being seen by persons in certain ethnic groups.

For example, I have degrees in computer science (B.S.), software engineering (M.S.) and business administration (M.B.A.), previously worked in Silicon Valley and also for Microsoft. I have the top sought after degrees in job listings, say various surveys. Yet I have never – not once! – seen an add on Facebook for a job related to my background! The reason, of course, is I am above the cut off age for hiring in the tech sector.

Several companies including UPS, Verizon, State Farm Insurance were found to have used FB’s ad features to intentionally avoid hiring workers over the age of 35. Similarly, ads for nurses were targeted exclusively at women (about 90% of RNs are female, worse than the tech sector’s hiring issues). And then ads for police officers and truck drivers were targeted exclusively at men.

Tricks have also been used to target ads at – or not at – certain ethnicities and used to discriminate for jobs and housing.

By EdwardM