Facebook is supposed to just be Instagram for old people, yet they keep finding themselves embattled in all kinds of skullduggery.
In 2018, Facebook found itself involved in some 21 scandals, including: Russians creating fake Facebook accounts to stir up shit before the 2016 election and Cambridge Analytica stealing the data of tens of millions of Americans without their knowledge before that election.
Now, the Department of Housing and Urban Development—also known as the house Ben Carson built and then charged poor residents overpriced rent and hung a photo of himself as Jesus over the fireplace—claims that Facebook has been “encouraging, enabling, and causing” housing discrimination through its advertising platform.
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement, CNN Business reports. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
From CNN Business:
Last August, HUD filed a formal complaint against Facebook, claiming the company allows landlords and people selling homes to use its advertising platform to “engage in housing discrimination.” The complaint said advertisers can dictate who sees housing-related ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.
Just last week, Facebook (FB) said it would pay about $5 million to settle several lawsuits that alleged its advertising platform allowed for discrimination in housing, employment and credit ads. It also announced several steps to address the issue, including a separate advertising portal for housing, employment and credit ads that offers significantly less targeting options, and a new page where US users can search for and view current housing-related ads even if they didn’t appear on their News Feed.
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Facebook noted Thursday that it was “surprised” by HUD’s decision
since they were on a payment plan to get them their back rent since they were working together to address concerns to prevent advertising discrimination.
“Last year we eliminated thousands of targeting options that could potentially be misused, and just last week we reached historic agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance, ACLU, and others that change the way housing, credit, and employment ads can be run on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business.
“We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues,” the spokesperson added.
Facebook also said it was “eager” to find a solution, but told CNN Business that HUD “insisted on access to sensitive information,” such as user data, without proper safeguards.
The Facebook advertising system was once a billboard for all kinds of foolishness.
“In December 2017, a ProPublica and New York Times investigation found that dozens of major companies ran recruitment ads only for specific age groups. At the time, Facebook said age-based targeting is ‘an accepted industry practice.’”
And in November 2017, a ProPublica report “found discriminatory ads were making it through Facebook’s systems. ProPublica was able to purchase dozens of home-rental ads that specifically excluded ‘African Americans, mothers of high school kids, people interested in wheelchair ramps, Jews, expats from Argentina and Spanish speakers.’”