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Updating Meta’s Detailed Targeting options starting January 19, 2022

December 8, 2021ByCarolyn Chen

We strongly believe that the best advertising experiences are personalized. They enable people to discover products and services from small businesses that may not have the ability to market them on broadcast television or other forms of media. They also enable non-profits, social causes and organizations to reach the people most likely to support and benefit from them, such as connecting people to fundraisers for charitable causes they care about. At the same time, we want to better match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach them on our platform and address feedback from civil rights experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders on the importance of preventing advertisers from abusing the targeting options we make available.

As part of these ongoing efforts, starting January 19, 2022, we will be removing some Detailed Targeting options because they relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive, such as targeting options referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation. Examples include:

  • Health causes (e.g., “Lung cancer awareness”, “World Diabetes Day”, “Chemotherapy”)
  • Sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage” and “LGBT culture”)
  • Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Catholic Church” and “Jewish holidays”)
  • Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures

Additionally, similar to previous updates, we will also be removing targeting options that have not been widely used because they may be redundant with others or too granular.

We’re providing you advance notice of this update so you can begin to plan for your campaigns, although no immediate action is required at this time.

Impact to advertisers using the Marketing API

For advertisers and partners using the Ads API, this change will be rolled out in Graph API for all versions on January 19, 2022.

Starting January 19, 2022, we recommend that partners acquire the list of ad set IDs targeted at affected objects via the Deprecated targeting terms API. Thereafter, partners can evaluate the ad sets' targeting specifications against Targeting Status API to identify the object IDs that may cause a pause in delivery. Implementing this logic will help partners minimize the potential impact of this update. In instances where the specific term is not flagged, you may have to recreate the ad set.

To ensure that your campaigns or ad sets can deliver as expected, it is best to avoid edits. That said, in the vast majority of cases, campaigns can continue to deliver to impacted targeting options until March 17, 2022. Until then, you will be able to make most edits made at the campaign level (e.g. campaign name, spending limit, etc.) without impacting targeting. Some changes at the ad set level may update your target audience (e.g. changes to placements, targeting options, etc.).

However, at the ad set level, you will still be able to update flight dates and budget without any updates to your targeting. If your ad set is paused before March 17, 2022, you will not be able to turn it back on without updating your targeting. If you have no active ads in an ad set, your ad set will be turned off. Additionally, you can edit individual ads (e.g. copy, creative, adding new ads) without impacting your targeting.

After March 17, 2022, edits for impacted campaigns will not be possible - at the campaign, ad set or ad level. To make sure campaigns or ad sets aren’t paused or have terms automatically removed on this date, advertisers should update their affected ad set’s detailed targeting and publish changes before March 17, 2022.

For most targeting segments, duplication of ad sets can continue through until March 17, 2022. For a small subset of targeting options, they will not be available for duplication after January 19, 2022.

Once the aforementioned targeting options are removed on March 17, 2022, the API will return the following error message when a user attempts to use them or modify targeting specifications that contain such options: “Error code 100, sub code 18157520: Cannot Use Invalid Detailed Targeting Options: Some of Your Detailed Targeting Options Have Been Removed: This ad set includes detailed targeting options that are either no longer available or unavailable when excluding people from an audience. You may need to remove items from your ad set or confirm the changes to turn it back on.”

While the decision to remove these options was not easy, we feel confident that we can evolve our ads system to meet the needs of everyone we serve, while working diligently to continue supporting one of the best things about Facebook -- helping people connect with and discover the businesses and organizations they care about.

You can read more about this update on our Facebook for Business blog.