ACLU Reaches Landmark Settlement Over Facebook’s Practice Of Allowing Advertisers To Exclude Minorities

Via press release:

The ACLU, along with our client Communications Workers of America, and other civil rights groups, announced a historic settlement agreement with Facebook that will result in major changes to Facebook’s advertising platform. Advertisers will no longer be able to exclude users from learning about opportunities for housing, employment, or credit based on gender, age, or other protected characteristics.

This policy change follows years of work by civil rights advocates—including a legal challenge from the ACLU, the Communications Workers of America, and the civil rights law firm Outten & Golden LLP.

In September, we collectively filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of CWA and individual job seekers against Facebook and a number of companies that targeted certain ads for jobs to younger male Facebook users. These charges joined other litigation asserting race discrimination in job, housing, and credit ads, and age discrimination in job ads.

Axios reports:

As part of the settlement, Facebook will pay $5 million to settle the case and will take three new steps to prevent advertisers from engaging in unlawful discrimination around employment, housing, and credit ads on Facebook and its subsidiaries (Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, etc.) A series of investigative reports over the past two years have uncovered ways that users can abuse Facebook’s ad platform in order to discriminate against some populations, mainly people of color.

Following the reports, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint against Facebook Friday under the Fair Housing Act, charging that the social network allows advertisers to illegally discriminate in housing ads by excluding some groups from seeing the ads. Shortly after, Facebook removed over 5,000 ad-targeting options to prevent that capability.