Facebook Removes Ad Options After HUD Complaint

August 23, 2018

Facebook is removing thousands of targeting options from its advertising platform after the Department of Housing and Urban Development accused the social media giant of discriminatory practices with its housing ads.

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HUD filed a complaint last Friday against Facebook that claimed the social network’s advertising platform allowed users to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers by being able to limit who saw their ads based on the users’ race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors.

“There is no place for discrimination [on our advertising platform],” Facebook stated in response to the HUD complaint. So far, they’ve removed more than 5,000 ad target options to “help prevent misuse,” according to the company. Facebook removed options such as “limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

The company also announced that all advertisers in the U.S. will be required to comply with its non-discrimination policy if they wanted to advertise on Facebook.

“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important,” Facebook said of its decision to remove the target options within its ad platform.

Facebook said it will share more updates to its targeted advertising tool over the next few months as it continues to “refine” it.

The National Association of REALTORS® released a statement this week in support of HUD’s enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and actions against Facebook. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

“As various online tools and platforms continue to transform the real estate industry in the 21st century, our understanding of how this law is enforced and applied must continue to evolve as well,” Elizabeth Mendenhall, NAR president, said in a statement. “REALTORS® commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for taking decisive action to defend fair housing laws, and for working to ensure its intended consumer protections extend to wherever real estate is marketed.”