REUTERS

Landlords Can Use Facebook to Discriminate Against Black People, Violates Fair Housing Act

Along with Facebook allowing Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the social media company has created a space for property owners to discriminate against people of color, and the federal government had to step in.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed a new complaint against Facebook alleging it allows property owners and sellers to violate the Fair Housing Act.


HUD claims the company enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and even zip code.

For example, if a property owner is advertising a home and doesn’t want Blacks or Latinos to respond to the ad, they can use “targeted advertising” to exclude populations of people from seeing it.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination, including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” Anna Mara Faras, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement.

“When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.”

Facebook has responded to HUD by agreeing on Tuesday to remove over 5,000 ad-targeting options from its platform.

“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,” the company said in a blog post.

But Facebook continues to face the same issues in allowing for the platform to be a tool for discrimination. It all circles back to a lack of diversity in its executive leadership team, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

There are no Blacks or Latinos on his team to assist in the day-to-day decisions that affect Blacks and Latinos.

“The company admits it has not been hiring enough Black and Hispanic employees in leadership and technical positions,” according to CNBC.

Only 1 percent of Facebook’s engineers and coders are Black and 3 percent are Latino a figure that hasn’t changed in four years.

Facebook practices coincide with Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity, which will leave tech companies behind as brown is the new white.

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