HUD Accuse Facebook of Discriminatory Housing Ads

By Lee Butler — Published August 20, 2018

HUD Accuse Facebook of Discriminatory Housing Ads

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) claim that Facebook has violated the Fair Housing Act by adding filter options to advertisements. The social media platform is in trouble again for permitting discriminatory ads according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On Friday, the HUD filed a complaint against Facebook for aiding landlords and home sellers to violate the Fair Housing Act. Facebook ad settings offer users the option of targeting specific audiences based on their demographic. Therefore, landlords and home sellers are able to target their audience based on race, religion, sex, national origin and more which is a clear violation of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. The HUD claim that Facebook was limiting home choices "under the guise" of targeted ass and the US attorney for the Southern District of New York seems to support these claims.

Anna María Farías, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, commented that “The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse.” What's more, she continued by stating that “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.”

In response to this, Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson was quick to reinforce that "There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it's strictly prohibited in our policies." He continued to state that "Over the past year we've strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse. We're aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court; we'll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns."

There is no doubt that Facebook is continuing to work on making their Facebook ad personalization as fair as possible. Facebook has already banned thousands of terms from its ad filtering options, however, this is undeniably an ongoing issue. In 2016, a ProPublica investigation portrayed how Facebook allowed people to ban specific races and ethnicities from seeing certain ads. A year later, ProPublica found that unfortunately, little had changed. Facebook has already been taken to court earlier in the year by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other housing groups leading us to wonder how much longer Facebook will continue to allow discrimination across its platform.

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