Social media giant Facebook has said in a statement today that it will end some targeting options for advertisements that have the potential of being discriminatory. This move came as a part of a legal settlement with civil rights groups that the company has made.
With this, anyone who is placing an advertisement on housing, job or credit will be able to target users on the basis of their age, gender and zip code. We should add here that this is not the first time when this is happening as Facebook previously had to drop targeting by ‘multicultural affinity’, which could be used to exclude users on the social media platform on the basis of their race.
The company practices regarding their advertisements came under scrutiny after a series of articles that were published by ProPublica showed how targeting options on Facebook could be used for discrimination. Soon after this, the social networking giant faced legal action from civil rights groups including American Civil Liberties Union.
And today, the company finally announced changes that it had to make as a part of the settlement with civil rights groups. It was argued by the groups that targeting on the platform violated laws that have barred discriminatory advertising.
The social media giant has also added that it will be building a tool that can be used to view targeted housing ads, in a move that is similar to a database that was made by the company after it faced a controversy over political advertisements.
The ACLU also said that the company has agreed to regularly meet with plaintiffs to discuss the progress of its reforms. Also, advertisers will be needed to certify their compliance with anti-discrimination laws.
Speaking about the changes, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “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. Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company.”
The blog post also said that as a part of the changes:
- Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code.
- Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall. Multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.
- We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the US targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you.