Facebook Inc said on Wednesday, it has removed “treason” from a list of user interest categories that advertisers can target, after Danish state broadcaster DR revealed its existence.
As the world’s largest social network; with more than 2 billion users, Facebook uses people’s online activities to create categories such as ‘sports’ and ‘music’; allowing companies to better target their advertising.
A spokesman for the company confirmed that the tag was removed.
” ‘Treason’ was included as a category given its historical significance. Given it’s an illegal activity, we’ve removed it as an interest category,” a Facebook spokesman said in an email to Reuters.
Published on Wednesday, the DR article detailed experts concerns that the tag; which Facebook called an “interest category”, could be used by intelligence services in authoritarian regimes to identify people considered subversive.
Russian authorities, for instance, could have used the keyword to identify 65,000 Facebook users whose online behaviour marked them as interested in “treason”, experts told DR.
The Facebook spokesman said: “When we identify misuse of our ad products, we take action. Depending on the violation, we may remove the ad, suspend the ad account or even report the advertiser to law enforcement.”
The social media platform on Tuesday, received a preliminary fine of £500,000 ($664,000) from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office for breaches of data protection law after millions of users’ data was improperly accessed by consultancy Cambridge Analytica.