Yesterday, the Trump Administration accused Facebook of selling targeted advertising that makes racial discrimination, violating a law regarding equitable access to housing.
According to a civil complaint of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which asks Facebook for damages, the company has restricted access to advertising about housing based on nationality, religion, family status, gender and disability.
Facebook announced that the company has cooperated with the United States Department for Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) and is surprised that HUD makes the accusations considering that Facebook took significant steps to prevent the ads from being discriminatory.
Facebook also claims that HUD “insisted to get access to sensible information, such as user data, without proper protection”.
HUD claims that Facebook is mining use data and then uses automated learning to anticipate their replies to advertising in a way that might recreate grouping based on protected classes.
Facebook accepted last week to modify the advertising platform as part of an agreement with civil rights activists who filed 5 lawsuits against Facebook accusing the social network of discrimination in advertising.
The U.S. legislation makes it illegal to publish some types of ads, including online, if they indicate a preference based on race, religion, gender and other specific criteria.
As part of the last week’s agreement, Facebook announced the social network will crete a new ad portal for ads about real estate and hiring, which will limit the targeting options for advertisers. Facebook also promised to create a new tool to allow users to search for all real estate ads listed in the United States of America.
HUD accuses Facebook of allowing advertisers to exclude people that Facebook classified as parents, born outside America, who are not Christians and so on.
CNBC says that HUB is analyzing similar practices from companies such as Twitter and Google, Facebook’s main rivals. HUD was unavailable for comment. Facebook, Twitter and Google denied the use of discriminatory advertising but admitted they allow advertisers to target ads based on gender.
Specialists claim that targeting ads based on gender might be in violation of the equitable access to housing act. Facebook’s advertising practices were under scrutiny these last few years because of Facebook’s policy regarding privacy and user sensible data.