Facebook is now requiring all U.S.-based housing, employment, and credit advertisers to select the “Special Ad Category” option in Ads Manager when creating ads. This feature limits ad targeting options — removing the ability to target ads by age, gender, zip code, multicultural affinity or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics — to prevent advertisers from running discriminatory ad campaigns.

The “Special Ad Category” process also prohibits advertisers from using Facebook’s Lookalike Audience ad feature.

“Instead, advertisers will be able to create a Special Ad Audience, an audience based on similarities in online behavior without considering things like age, gender or zip code,” wrote Facebook on the Facebook Business blog.

The Impact

Any marketers managing ad campaigns for housing, employment or credit products, and services need to begin using the Special Ad Category option in the Ads Manager or run the risk of their ads being stopped. Facebook said it will review ads mostly via an automated process, but supported by human reviews: “Mistakes will happen, but we continue to improve the ads we review.”

Advertisers running housing, employment or credit ads who have used Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences in the past will now have to create new “Special Ad Audience” lists based on the new restrictions.

Facebook’s efforts to remove ad targeting options for housing, employment, and credit advertisers are the result of a settlement the company reached with civil rights groups last year who charged Facebook with allowing discriminatory ads on its platform.

If you fall under one of these categories, please be aware that your target audience may be harder to target than normal. If you’re interested in what exactly you can target or are limited to, feel free to reach out to us, or a quick search in Facebook’s Business Help center should be able to find what you’re looking for.