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Discriminatory targeted ads focusing on housing, jobs, and credit persist at Facebook, even after changes.

Issue

Justice Area(s)

Racial Justice

AI Impact(s)

Bias and Discrimination

Location(s)

Americas

United States

Year

2018

Facebook was allowing advertisers to exclude certain groups when advertising within federally regulated markets like housing and jobs. Facebook often sidestepped the concerns using technicalities, such as classifying users not by race but by so-called"ethnic" or "multicultural" affinities, or self-selecting identity groups consistent with what a majority of Black, Latine, or other minoritized people might statistically like on the platform. Only after rigorous coverage from media outlets, most prominently ProPublica, did Facebook eventually disable ad targeting options for housing, job, and credit ads as part of a legal settlement with civil rights groups (National Fair Housing Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union, Communication Workers of America). However, even when Facebook changed its ad platform to prevent advertisers from selecting attributes like "ethnic affinity," it was determined that the platform still enabled discrimination by allowing advertisers to target users through proxy attributes.

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