The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, accused Facebook of violating the Fair Housing Act.
According to a HUD press release, the social media network is 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.
HUD’s complaint alleges that Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act by giving advertisers the ability to target audiences by 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; and to 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.”
They can also not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
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.