US – Facebook is prioritising its users’ emotional wellbeing by making it easier for people to block distressing adverts.
The new initiative, which is now being tested, marks the first time that individuals will be able to decide which adverts do not appear in their Facebook feed. Until now Ad Preferences have been configured to give users choice over the adverts they would like to see rather than letting them block particular topics.
The change in approach stems from research conducted by the social media company, which identified the two subjects – alcohol and parenting – as the most upsetting to the highest number of people.
Facebook ads are targeted based on people's interaction with pages and their search history, which means that parents who have recently lost a child or individuals with an alcohol problem would be more likely to be presented with adverts related to children or alcohol if they did not change the settings.
‘For families who experience the loss of a child, to continue to see ads about parenting and new baby stuff, that can be really upsetting,’ says Mark Rabkin, vice-president of core ads at Facebook.
A new draft European Union (EU) law leaked earlier this month indicates that internet browsers operating within member states will soon have to automatically block online tracking unless users choose to have their behaviour monitored, which if passed, will make it difficult for brands to implement targeted adverts.