Is Facebook Disregarding the Fair Housing Act?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed a complaint against social media giant Facebook. The company is allegedly allowing advertisers on their site to be discriminatory with options that violate and target the seven protected classes. As these practices have been brought to light, an investigation into whether they are violating fair housing law is taking place.

The Fair Housing Act works to protect the seven protected classes (race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability) from being discriminated in the housing industry. As of the time the complaint was filed by HUD, Facebook’s marketing tools allowed for discrimination in their advertising targeting options.

The Facebook Discriminatory Options Include:

Not showing ads to those interested in “child care” or “parenting”.

Choosing which sex advertisements appear to.

Only showing ads to those interested in Christian related topics.

Not showing ads to those interested in “assistance dog”, “mobility scooter”, or “accessibility”.

Allowing for ads not to be shown to those in certain zip majority-minority codes.

Not showing ads to those Facebook categorized as interested in certain Latin American countries.

As this case is investigated, we’re reminded that fair housing laws are broken more often than we think. Should Facebook be held accountable for these actions, it will be a warning sign to others who think they can get away with discrimination. Facebook has stated that they’ll be working with HUD to address these concerns.

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