While Kanye once affirmed that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” the same could be said of Facebook—which, since its introduction in 2004, has demonstrated an unwavering allegiance to discriminatory behavior.
From its employees behind the curtain, to the millions of us “in front of the camera”, Mark Zuckerberg’s magnum opus has proven itself to operate against our best interests time and time and time and time again.
To put it succinctly, Facebook could give a fuck about our black asses.
But while Solange saw things she imagined and attempted to whisk us all away to BlackPlanet, Facebook has somehow earned our loyalty despite only offering disdain in exchange. Which makes the news that the world’s largest social media platform will cough up $5 million in a historic settlement centered on its discriminatory advertising practices about as surprising as wayward negroes caping for YesJulz.
The settlement resolves claims that Facebook’s targeting technology allowed advertisers to exclude protected groups such as racial minorities, women and older workers from seeing housing, employment and credit offers. It also establishes a partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Communication Workers of America union to work collaboratively to prevent discrimination on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
You mean to tell me Facebook—which is worth an astounding $138 billion—got caught Facebooking (at this point they’re a verb) again? But why is this revelation so important?
It’s not exactly a secret that Facebook’s business model is predicated on peddling ads. Hell, them doing exactly that drew $56 billion in revenue last year.
But what gives Czar Zuckerberg such a significant advantage over everyone else is the micro-targeting capabilities of his platform. So when we’re forced to endure ad after ad of bootleg t-shirts or Tyler Perry’s endless succession of sanctified dreck, all while excluding us from being able to put 5 on Aunt Becky’s college admission scam, that’s illegal under federal law.
We want the white people ads too, yo.
But more importantly, we’d really appreciate it if Facebook wasn’t complicit in blatant housing and employment discrimination. Because that’s exactly what the fuck they are.
With platforms like Facebook playing a substantial role in steering people to economic opportunities, Tuesday’s settlement will bring changes to how Americans can be targeted on the platform, ensuring that protected groups that already face discrimination cannot be excluded from seeing ads that can help them find a new job, an apartment or a loan, civil rights and labor organizations said.
Currently, advertisers can target users of Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger based upon thousands of interests—making us susceptible to discrimination. But by the end of the year, Facebook will overhaul their targeting technology to narrow what interests advertisers can access—like “job interview” instead of “Luther Vandross.”
Anyone who wants to run these ads will not be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code. Facebook is also building a new tool that will allow users to search for and view all current housing ads throughout the U.S.
“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,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement. “Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company.”
But how are those of us on the other side of the fence reacting to this settlement?
Lisa Rice, the executive vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, whose lawsuit against Facebook was among those settled Tuesday, praised the settlement as a “game changer.”
“The settlement positions Facebook to be a pacesetter,” she told Wired, “and a leader on civil rights issues in the tech field.”
Color of Change hailed the agreed upon terms as a “positive step.”
“But Facebook has also repeatedly failed to follow through on its public promises,” Color Of Change’s president Rashad Robinson said in a statement. “The settlement shows the limitations of current law to deal with the scope of discrimination in the digital age.”
Or as Facebook has proven repeatedly in the past, the desire to.