The SPD-led Federal Ministry of Labor has separated from an advertising service provider because of Facebook ads specifically aimed at SPD members. The reason for the end of the cooperation is “targeting of SPD supporters”, said a spokesman on Tuesday on request, so the targeted addressing of SPD members in the social network.
The practice came out one and a half weeks ago through the ZDF program “Magazin Royale” by satirist Jan Böhmermann. According to this, the ministry directed by head of department Hubertus Heil (SPD) targeted several Facebook advertisements to people who were interested in the “Social Democratic Party of Germany”, as it did on its own Website for the Böhmermann research called. The background to this is that Facebook uses its own algorithm to assign users to certain interest categories.
Ministry refers to service providers
The ministry spokesman emphasized that advertising according to target groups had taken place “without our knowledge and against our instructions”. Ministry guidelines have prohibited targeting people belonging to certain political parties. The ministry had already admitted the “mistake” to the magazine. The ministry announced the separation from the service provider on Monday, initially without elaborating on the background.
A research team had also denounced personalized Facebook advertising by other agencies for the magazine. The FDP is said to have published contradicting advertisements for different target groups. Social media for online election campaigns is widespread, because election strategists find ideal conditions on Facebook & Co. to deliver tailor-made messages to selected target groups.
Criticism also of microtargeting for Greens
The climate protection ministry of Rhineland-Palatinate, led by the Greens, has now reacted to the research. A ministry spokeswoman said on request in Mainz that a post was increasingly being displayed on Facebook to users of whom the network assumes that they are interested in greens.
“The criticism of this practice is justified,” said the spokeswoman. It was immediately turned off after the information was given. In the future, such target group selection will no longer take place. However, party advertising did not take place. A ministry is not allowed to use taxpayers’ money to advertise parties.