Facebook Tests Letting People Block Alcohol or Parenting Ads to Avoid Stirring Painful Memories

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Facebook changed the look of its ad preferences section. Credit: Facebook

Facebook wants to help some people avoid ads that might upset them, and is updating ad controls to do that.

In a test, people will now be able to turn off Facebook ads from alcohol marketers and messages related to parenting.

Facebook said it will consider adding others if people report them as potentially distressing.

"Those are the two most common topics," said Mark Rabkin, vp of core ads at Facebook. "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."

This is the first time anyone can proactively block a topic. Ad preferences have allowed people to say what topics they would like to see -- areas that are most relevant to their interests.

Hiding ads is just one update in a series of changes to ad preferences that Facebook is making. The company is also changing the look of its ad preferences page in an effort to make it easier to navigate.

Facebook included a "hide ads" section in the new ad preferences. Credit: Facebook
The old ad preferences were less visual. Credit: Facebook

"People told us that the main thing they want is for ad preferences to be easier to find and use," Mr. Rabkin said.

The update will not impact any preferences people have already chosen.

"We're not changing any existing settings here," Mr. Rabkin said. "We're just changing how it appears."

The new look is more visual, and it's more unified. People used to access ad preferences from their settings or from individual ads, and the experience was different in each case. Now, the preference menu looks the same no matter where a person finds it.

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