ACLU Statement on HUD Complaint Against Facebook for Housing Discrimination

March 28, 2019 11:30 am

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today charged Facebook with housing discrimination, alleging its paid advertising platform violates the Fair Housing Act. The complaint comes shortly after Facebook announced a sweeping civil rights settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights and housing organizations.

Many of the practices named in the complaint will be addressed by the settlement, including removing discriminatory targeting options Facebook made available to housing, employment, and credit advertisers. Those changes will go into effect in September.

Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, issued the following response:

“We welcome the news that HUD is continuing to pressure Facebook to reform its ad targeting platform, and in particular, the use of tools and algorithms that skew the audiences who receive ads. Although the settlement we reached with Facebook will result in removing many of the most troubling of Facebook’s advertising practices, there is more work to be done. We will continue to monitor the settlement’s implementation, which requires Facebook to study and report on algorithmic bias and any ongoing discriminatory impact of its targeting features.

“The HUD complaint is certain to add much-needed pressure on Facebook to eradicate discrimination from its ad platform altogether, and we encourage the department to investigate the wide swath of online ad targeting platforms.”

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