DOJ settles lawsuit with Facebook over allegedly discriminatory housing advertising

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  • The Justice Department has reached a settlement with Facebook owner Meta, alleging it engages in discriminatory advertising that violates federal housing law, the agency announced Tuesday.
  • The DOJ claimed that Meta targeted users with algorithmically-based housing ads that partially relied on features protected under the Fair Housing Act. The DOJ claimed that Meta targeted users with algorithmically-based housing ads that partially relied on features protected under the Fair Housing Act.

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Justice Department reached an agreement The agency announced Tuesday that Facebook owner Meta is accused of engaging in discriminatory advertising that violates federal housing law.

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The investigation stemmed from a 2019 allegation of discrimination by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to the release, after the company was selected to hear the charges in federal court, HUD referred the matter to the DOJ.

The DOJ claimed that Meta targets users with algorithmically-based housing ads that partially rely on characteristics protected under the Fair Housing Act, such as race, national origin and gender. It also alleged that Meta’s Lookalike or Specialized Ad Audience tool allowed advertisers to target users based on protected traits.

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The settlement, which still needs to be approved by the court, would require Meta to stop using its Specialized Ad Audience tool for housing ads, which the government claims rely on an algorithm that measures race and gender. Discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics such as

Facebook will need to build a new system for housing ads by December that will have to be approved by the government. If the government accepts the system, META will have to submit regular third-party reviews to ensure it remains in compliance. If the new advertising system does not adequately address the issues, the settlement will be terminated and the matter will return to federal court.

Meta will have to pay the maximum penalty under the Fair Housing Act of $115,054 under the settlement.

“As technology evolves rapidly, companies like Meta have a responsibility to ensure that their algorithmic tools are not used in a discriminatory manner,” Kristen Clark, DOJ Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. Go.”

one in blog post Following the announcement, META described the agreement as “the result of more than a year of collaboration with HUD to develop a new use of machine learning technology that will measure the overall audience of a housing ad, regardless of age, gender, or gender.” and will work to ensure the presumed race or ethnicity matches the age, gender and presumed race or ethnicity mix of the population eligible to view that ad.”

The company said it limits targeting options to advertisers already running housing ads and that its new system will aim to “make additional progress toward more equitable delivery of ads through our ad delivery process.”

Meta said it would expand this approach to include ad-targeting for employment and credit, and likewise stop using its specialized ad audience targeting tools for those categories.

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