Less than a week after Facebook came under fire for its controversial ad practices, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed charges on the tech giant over discrimination in real estate advertisements.
HUD is declaring that Facebook’s practice of targeted marketing breaks the Fair Housing Act by “motivating, allowing, and causing” illegal discrimination by limiting who can view real estate advertisements.
The charge comes from an investigation introduced by last year. Multiple outside probes have found that Facebook’s advertisement targeting abilities let marketers leave out people by gender, race, ethnic background and other categories.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson described, “Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” adding that “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
The legal battle with HUD contributes to Facebook’s growing list of obstacles in Washington. The company is currently more than a year into a Federal Trade Commission review probing its supposed repeated failures to protect user data. Legislators of both sides of the aisle consistently attack the business for a variety of issues, including its data practices, struggles to properly serve a diverse labor force and user base, and the expansion of fake news and hate speech on its platforms.
Facebook ditches targeting in real estate advertisements
The problem of discrimination in marketing is nothing new for Facebook. Just recently, the social network’s platform eliminated the option to target based on age, gender and postal code in reaction to growing criticism.
Additionally, Facebook has announced that it will develop a tool that can be utilized to view targeted real estate advertisements, a change similar to a database the company built after debate over targeted political ads. The ACLU explained in a statement that the business has likewise accepted to meet with complainants about the advancement of its betterment regularly, and will need advertisers to authorize their compliance with anti-discrimination laws.
CEO of Facebook’s News Space Sheryl Sandberg explained, “Our job is to make sure these benefits continue while also making sure that our ads tools aren’t misused. There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads.”
What’s next for its share price?
Advertising is Facebook’s core business, and while last year’s data scandal sent its stock price crashing from all-time highs, the tech giant has seen mostly upward momentum in recent months.
Despite its ongoing issues in Washington and its ‘executive exodus,‘ Facebook stock is showing no signs of slowing.