Facebook settles civil rights suit over ad discrimination

Facebook announced on Tuesday that a settlement has been reached in a civil rights case against the social media giant, as Facebook has agreed to take proactive steps to prevent advertisers from engaging in unlawful discrimination.

Last year the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and other private parties, filed litigation against Facebook. The parties claimed Facebook failed to prevent discrimination from advertisers who send job, housing or credit ads to users of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Facebook said that their policies already prohibit advertisers from using their “tools” to discriminate, but acknowledged that they can do better. “Housing, employment and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people.” To further prevent such discrimination, Facebook has implemented numerous changes for potential advertisers.

Among such changes, anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender, or zip code. Additionally, multicultural affinity targeting will be unavailable and any detailed targeting of a protected class will also be unavailable. Finally, Facebook is building a tool that allows all users to view all current housing ads in the US regardless of who the ads were targeted to.

Facebook says they are committed to doing more and “look forward to engaging in serious consultation and work with key civil rights groups, experts and policymakers to help us find the right path forward.”