Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Markets | By Erika Turner

Facebook settles with ACLU over discriminatory ads

Facebook settles with ACLU over discriminatory ads

In a blow to some real estate advertisers, Facebook has announced that it will no longer allow housing ads to target users by ZIP code, and will also impose a 15-mile minimum radius for geographic ad targeting. Facebook has limited the type of targeting advertisers can use when running housing, employment and credit ads, which are categories protected by federal law to prevent discrimination. People perusing the platform's ads for housing opportunities will be able to look up those targeted at users around the country - even if they're not one of them. "We're committed to doing more, and we look forward to engaging in serious consultation and work with key civil rights groups, experts and policymakers to help us find the right path forward", Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post.

The National Fair Housing Alliance, Communications Workers of America and individuals represented by the American Civil Liberties Union were among those who had brought lawsuits against Facebook over the last three years alleging discrimination. And that was before a man in New Zealand used Facebook's video service to livestream his murders of 50 people, promoting U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this week to call for the federal government to start regulating the company. According to the New York Times, Facebook will also pay less than $5 million to settle five separate suits related to this its ad targeting features. It's how they company made US$56-billion in revenue a year ago."There is a lot of pressure on Facebook and its ability to target ads", said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. "As a result, more than half of small businesses on Facebook say they've hired more employees due to growth since joining our platform", said Sandberg.

The first discovery on this front was uncovered by ProPublica in 2016, which found that Facebook's system enabled advertisers to exclude black, Hispanic, and other "ethnic affinities" from seeing ads. Some firms, for example, were targeting ads only to people under age 45. "Then Facebook approves and permits advertisers to publish these ads in a discriminatory manner without consumers ever knowing they have been excluded".

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Furthermore, a non-bailabl warrant has been issued by PMLA court against Ami Modi, wife of Nirav Modi. Punjab National Bank also alleged that its own employees helped Nirav Modi in carrying big-fat scam.

Facebook in the past had reached a similar agreement with the Washington state to end discriminatory ad targeting, and had said it removed thousands of categories related to potentially sensitive personal attributes from its exclusion ad targeting tools.

The company will also roll out a new page where US users can search for and see current housing-related ads, even if those ads didn't appear on their News Feed.

However, the company still faces an administrative complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August over the housing ads issue.

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