Facebook ads will target people who visited physical stores

The move comes as the social network faces increased scrutiny over its advertising tools.

Richard Nieva
Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Facebook social network on digital devices

Facebook will let advertisers target people visiting real world stores. 


Facebook's ad tools are getting even more sophisticated.

The world's largest social network on Thursday announced new tools for advertisers that, among other things, let them target Facebook users based on what they've done in the real world, including visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

Facebook has the ability to do that because some people have enabled the company to track their locations through Facebook's mobile app (a setting you can turn off). The company says the store-tracking tool is available for "thousands" of businesses in a dozen countries.

"Businesses have long desired ways to understand how their digital ads can drive more offline value -- where most sales happen,"  Gabriel Francis, product marketing manager at Facebook, said in a statement.

Facebook's ad business has been the target of much scrutiny recently. Earlier this month, the company disclosed it sold $100,000 worth of ads during the 2016 election to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russia. And last week, Facebook came under fire after it was revealed that advertisers could specifically target anti-Semites because of automatically generated categories on the company's ad platform.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, responded to the controversy on Wednesday, saying she was "disgusted and disappointed." She said Facebook is increasing enforcement against hateful ads and amping up oversight of the automated processes.