LGBTQ Content Filtering: Update #4

So, throughout my project I’ve also been looking at how Facebook allows LGBTQ users to be specifically targeted and the potential implications of this. In the past, advertisers were allowed to exclude certain groups from seeing their ads based on categories like race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. This obviously seems very easy to abuse, the most notable example being when housing ads were purposely excluded from being shown to African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic users(https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-lets-advertisers-exclude-users-by-race). Although Facebook immediately removed these options, totaling around 5000, there have still been many reports of advertisers being able to circumvent these rules to continue excluding protected groups from seeing advertisements. (Again, a study by propublica -> https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-advertising-discrimination-housing-race-sex-national-origin) Now, after much public backlash, options to exclude people by certain race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. were removed.

With regards to the LGBTQ community specifically, Facebook allows advertisers to choose from categories like “LGBT community,” “gay pride,” “gay friendly,” and “transgenderism” (I’m not sure why they went with this instead of just “transgender” or “transgender people”),  just to name a few. This seems benign enough; these categories help advertisers making pride products, promoting LGBTQ workshops or events, etc. to target the community directly and easily. Yet, since you can target the LGBTQ community specifically, I am wondering if still possible for advertisers to exclude the LGBTQ community in some way.

Although the option to exclude based on LGBTQ-related categories was removed, advertisers can still exclude previous lookalike and/or custom audiences. Although I was not able to test running any ads myself, it might be possible for an advertiser to run fake ads targeted at the LGBTQ community, and then exclude that audience from seeing their actual ads. Admittedly, this is quite the workaround, but considering the number of defunct vaguely queer ads already running on the platform, it would not be difficult to do this. 

In my next update, I’ll continue to look at more aspects of LGBTQ micro-targeting.