Community Issues

HUD Accuses Facebook of Housing Discrimination

Platform charged with "enabling, causing" discrimination with micro-targeted ads.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing Facebook of housing discrimination.

The Washington Post reports that HUD claims Facebook's targeted advertising platform violates the Fair Housing Act by "encouraging, enabling, and causing" unlawful discrimination by restricting who can view housing ads.

According to the Post, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said Facebook enabled housing discrimination by allowing advertisers to exclude people based on race, gender, ZIP code or religion. The more than two-year investigation began during the Obama administration.

Sec. Ben Carson (photo courtesy HUD.gov)

In a statement, Carson said: "Using a computer to limit a person's housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone's face ."

"Even as we confront new technologies, the fair housing laws enacted over half a century ago remain clear discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law," HUD General Counsel Paul Compton said. "Fashioning appropriate remedies and the rules of the road for today's technology as it impacts housing are a priority for HUD."

The Post reports the charges come one week after Facebook agreed in a settlement to overhaul its micro-targeting ad system for job, housing and loan advertisements after discrimination complaints from civil rights groups.

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