The Department of Housing and Urban Development is charging Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act because of its alleged discriminatory ads.
#HUD said today that Facebook has violated the federal act by “encouraging, enabling, and causing” housing discrimination through its advertising platform, according to @CNN.
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary #BenCarson in a statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
Last August, HUD filed a formal complaint against Facebook, claiming the company allowed landlords and people selling homes to use its advertising platform to “engage in housing discrimination.” The complaint said that advertisers can control who sees housing-related ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.
Just last week, Facebook said it was going to pay $5 million to settle several lawsuits that alleged its advertising platform allowed discrimination in housing, employment and credit ads.
Facebook also announced several steps to address the issue, including a separate advertising portal for housing, employment and credit ads that offers significantly less targeting options. They also announced a new page where U.S. users can search for and view current housing-related ads even if they don’t appear on their News Feed.
Facebook officials responded to the charge saying they were “surprised” by HUD’s decision and noted the company had been working with the department to address those concerns.
Officials also said they have taken “significant steps” to prevent advertising discrimination.
“Last year we eliminated thousands of targeting options that could potentially be misused, and just last week we reached historic agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance, ACLU, and others that change the way housing, credit, and employment ads can be run on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business. “We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues.”
We’ll keep you posted on any updates, Roommates.