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Tue Jun 21, 2022, 08:06 PM

Justice Department and Meta settle landmark housing discrimination case

Last edited Tue Jun 21, 2022, 09:31 PM - Edit history (1)

Source: Washington Post

Facebook-owner Meta agreed to revamp the social network’s targeted advertising system under a sweeping settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, after the company was accused of allowing landlords to market their housing ads in discriminatory ways. The settlement, which stems from a 2019 Fair Housing Act lawsuit brought by the Trump Administration, is the second such settlement in which the company has agreed to change its ad systems to prevent discrimination.

But Tuesday’s settlement goes further than the first one, requiring Facebook to overhaul its powerful internal ad targeting tool, known as Lookalike Audiences. Government officials said by allowing advertisers to target housing-related ads by race, gender, religion or other sensitive characteristics that the product enabled housing discrimination. Under the settlement, Facebook will build a new automated advertising system that the company says will help ensure that housing related ads are delivered to a more equitable mix of the population.

The settlement said that the social media giant would have to submit the system to a third party for review. Facebook, which last year renamed its parent company to Meta, also agreed to pay a $115,054 fee, the maximum penalty available under the law. “This settlement is historic, marking the first time that Meta has agreed to terminate one of its algorithmic targeting tools and modify its delivery algorithms for housing ads in response to a civil rights lawsuit,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Advertisers will still be able to target their ads to users in particular locations but not based on their Zip codes alone and those with a limited set of interests, according to Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne. Facebook Vice President of Civil Rights Roy Austin said in a statement that the company will use machine learning technology to try to more equitably distribute who sees housing-related ads regardless of how those marketers targeted their ads by taking into account the age, gender and probable race of users.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/06/21/facebook-doj-discriminatory-housing-ads/

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