At Unwritten Digital we like to think that we’re ahead of the curve and that our digital marketing knowledge is as up-to-date as possible but this one passed us by. Like us, you may have missed a change Facebook made to their targeting last year so we thought it would be good to write this post.

What’s Happened

Facebook has suspended all targeting options which sit in the ‘Employer’ and ‘Education’ categories. These include education level, fields of study, employers and job titles.

Why Would Facebook Do This?

Facebook removed these targeting options in response to an article by ProPublica which pointed out that advertisers could use some very offensive targeting options to reach Facebook users. These targeting options had been created by algorithms (with seemingly no human oversight) in response to information which people had entered into their Facebook profiles.

When Facebook was informed that these targeting options exist on their platform they removed not only the offensive options but also the entire Employer and Education categories.

Full details about how Facebook let this happen are covered in this blog post.

What About Old Campaigns

These options can not currently be used to target users in any new Facebook campaigns. According to Marketing Land they can be used for previously existing Campaigns but in our experience, old ads cannot be re-used with these targeting options.

When Will this be Resolved?

Facebook’s official statement on the issue they say

…to help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes, we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue.

This post is from September 2017 and as yet there has been no update from Facebook.

What Can I Do About This?

As mentioned previously Marketing Land says that “Existing campaigns that use school, employer, field of study or job titles as targeting options are not affected”. We’ve tested this and Campaigns which worked fine prior to this change will no longer work until all Education and Employer targeting options are removed. At some point Facebook should figure out a way to prevent offensive data from being picked up as a potential targeting option (manual review presumably) but until then you’ll have to use different targeting or a different platform.

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