Facebook faces more government trouble.
Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has alleged that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act.
The social media network stands accused of allowing landlords and sellers to use advertising to exclude individuals based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code.
An excerpt from a HUD press release:
For example, HUD’s complaint alleges Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act. It enables advertisers to, among other things:
- display housing ads either only to men or women;
- not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
- not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
- to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
- not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
- draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.
The complaint, filed last Friday, comes after an investigation that began in 2016.
Facebook might end up litigating a similar federal case. The social media network sought to dismiss a lawsuit filed by fair housing groups. The U.S. Department of Justice opposed this effort and said Facebook could be held liable for housing discrimination.