SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 18, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The US Department of Housing and
Urban Development on Friday accused Facebook of breaking the law by letting
landlords and home sellers use its ad-targeting system to discriminate
against potential buyers or tenants.
A formal complaint filed by HUD said that Facebook advertisers were able
to target offers of homes available for rent or sale based on factors such as
race, religion, gender, nationality, or disabilities.
That precision allowed landlords or home sellers to discriminate against
certain groups of people in violation of the US Fair Housing Act, according
to the claim.
“When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help
advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s
face,” Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and
equal opportunity, said in a release.
The formal complaint came after a HUD investigation confirmed that
advertisers on Facebook could exclude categories such as people who expressed
interest in assistance dogs, parenting, China, or the Bible, according to the
Facebook prohibits discrimination and has strengthened its systems during
the past year to protect against targeting being misused by advertisers, a
spokesman told AFP.
“There is no place for discrimination on Facebook,” the spokesman said.
“We’re aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court;
and we’ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns.”