Facebook removes certain targeted advertising options amid HUD discrimination complaint

by Rincey Abraham

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Facebook recently announced changes it will be making to its advertising tools after the company was accused of potentially enabling housing discrimination on the platform.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a discrimination complaint against Facebook claiming that the company violated the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to target and exclude users from .

According to the formal complaint by HUD, Facebook allowed advertisers on its websites to control which users receive housing-related ads based on a number of factors including a user’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability and ZIP code.

In order to “prevent misuse,” Facebook is now removing more than 5,000 targeting options, including limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences based on demographic information like ethnicity or religion.

Bill Murray, president of the Atlanta Realtors Association, told Atlanta Agent that the association works very hard to make sure its brokers are in compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act.

“At the Atlanta Realtors Association, we have always positioned that all advertising to be in compliance with federal fair housing, whether it be on Facebook, the radio, magazines. It should all be compliant,” he says. “The fact that is on Facebook doesn’t alleviate the concern.”

Murray says that there are seminars and CE credit classes that deal with the Fair Housing Act and go over in detail the requirements and restrictions with advertising. In those classes, the ARA includes information about all forms of social media, too.

Facebook will also be including more information and working to educate advertisers about discrimination policies. The company is rolling out a new certification to all U.S. advertisers that will be required in order to continue advertising on Facebook.

“We’ve designed this education in consultation with outside experts to underscore the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination,” Facebook said in a statement online.

While there are not specific details about the details of the certification, an image from Facebook – included below – highlights what is to come.

Source: Facebook