The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint on 8/13/2018 against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act. Read HUD’s complaint against Facebook.
According to the press release, HUD claims that Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then allegedly invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of “targeted advertising.”
HUD alleges that Facebook allows advertisers to, among other things:
- show housing ads either only to men or women;
- not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
- not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
- to show/not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
- not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
- draw a red line around majority-minority zip codes and then not show ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.