Facebook Is Making Changes To Protect You From Discrimination On Its Ads

Dhir Acharya - Mar 20, 2019


Facebook Is Making Changes To Protect You From Discrimination On Its Ads

Facebook said that advertisers running ads on credit, employment, and housing won’t be able to target users based on gender, age, or ZIP code.

Facebook is changing a range of advertisements on its platform to protect its users against discrimination while searching for housing or jobs.

According to Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, advertisers running ads on credit, employment, and housing won’t be able to target users based on gender, age, or ZIP code, and they will have fewer options in targeting users too. The social giant also revealed that it’s developing a tool enabling users to search for housing advertisements across the US.

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Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, wrote in a blog post that credit, employment, and housing ads play a critical role in helping people access to credit, get a good job, and buy the right houses.

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This move complies with the settlement between the social giant and several civil rights groups which include the American Civil Liberties Union, the organization sued Facebook for letting advertisers discriminate users by excluding them from select ads on credit, employment, and housing based on age, gender, and ZIP code.

From 2016 to 2018, there were five lawsuits filed by civil rights groups against the social network over discrimination. The change this time also affects Instagram and Messenger.

In 2016, ProPublica reported that advertisers on Facebook could promote housing ads excluding users by race, which was against the federal law. Since then, the social giant has faced mounting pressure to make changes in its advertising tools. The company then removed the tool which allowed advertisers to prevent certain users from seeing ads based on their “ethnic affinity.”

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The same issue continued to expand to employment ads, which ACLU attorney Galen Sherwin said has been illegal since the 60s and 70s. However, Sherwin pointed out that discrimination in Facebook ads has been decreasing in the 21st century.

According to the attorney, advertisers will have to choose what ads they’re placing like credit, employment, or housing and targeting options will go down from tens of thousands to a few hundred.

Civil rights groups will test the mentioned types of ads to ensure Facebook’s keeping its promise. Meanwhile, advocacy groups will likely watch out for advertisers that try to sneak through the rules.

As stated by a spokesperson, Facebook doesn’t break out the number of credit, employment, and housing ads placed on its platform each month or year.

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