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 keywords, it also suggests other ones. For instance, typing "Why do Jews ruin everything" as a potential phrase reportedly led to suggestions such as "the evil jew" and "jewish control of banks".
Google's ad tech, the main contributor to its parent company Alphabet's roughly $100 billion in annual revenue, lets advertisers target search users by what phrases they type into the query field. While reports of using similar targeting methods on Facebook and Google's platforms made clear that there were only a few thousand people in the U.S. that would see these ads, Twitter's platform appears more far-reaching.
The ads were visible when such keywords were searched for and Google's ad buying platform tracked the ad views, according to the internet media company's report based on the campaign.
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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".
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Earlier this week, Facebook faced criticism after reports emerged that the social networking giant allowed advertisers to target users based on categories like "Ku-Klux-Klan" and "Jew hater".
In response to the BuzzFeed piece, a Google official said the site had turned off the "offensive suggestions" and pulled the accompanying ads, vowing to "work harder to stop this from happening again". We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected. According to CBS News, they have yet to release a statement about the report.
Buzzfeed was able to run ads for only some of the phrases, and Google pointed out that the vast majority were not available for purchase, although the oversight wasn't failsafe. That's not good enough and we're not making excuses.
Facebook isn't the only tech giant having trouble with anti-Semitic ad campaigns.
Google's system went even further than Facebook's in that it automatically suggested offensive search terms.