The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook over alleged discrimination in ads for housing. The Verge reports:
In its complaint, it [HUD] alleges that “Facebook unlawfully discriminates by enabling advertisers to restrict which Facebook users receiving housing-related ads based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Facebook’s ad targeting tools then invite advertisers to express unlawful preferences by suggesting discriminatory options, and Facebook effectuates the delivery of housing-related ads to certain users and not others based on those users’ actual or imputed protected traits.”
It goes on to outline that the company “enables advertisers to discriminate” by showing ads only to men or women, and not showing ads to users “whom Facebook categorizes as interested in ‘assistance dog,’ mobility scooter,’ ‘accessibility,’ or ‘deaf culture,” as well as users who list things like childcare, parenting, religious interests, or various countries.
HUD describes the practice as widespread across the United States and ongoing, and notes that it’s impacted an “undetermined” number of aggrieved users. A Facebook spokesperson told Axios that “there is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. Over the past year we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” and that the company will “respond in court; and we’ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns.”