Facebook's ad options could be discriminatory

A look at the weird posts on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook knows almost everything about you as well as uses of which to show ads designed to appeal to your interests.

of which’s nothing completely new. nevertheless on Friday, a report surfaced of which these targeted ads can potentially be used illegally.

Facebook has an ad customization option called “Ethnic Affinities,” which lets advertisers target specific groups — or exclude them. ProPublica found of which the tool can be used to discriminate against users with housing-related ads — which is actually forbidden under the Fair Housing Act.

Facebook (FB, Tech30) doesn’t ask users for their race, nevertheless the massive amounts of data the idea collects can infer the idea.

ProPublica tested This particular feature by posting an ad for a housing event of which the idea requested not be shown to anyone with an “Ethnic Affinity” of African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic. the idea said of which the ad was approved in 15 minutes.

The 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibits advertising the rental or sale of homes as well as discriminating “based on race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

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Since the ProPublica ad was for an event, not actually selling a house, the idea wasn’t technically illegal. nevertheless civil rights attorney John Relman, who called the exclusionary ads “horrifying,” told sy88pgw there are numerous non-discrimination laws at both the federal as well as local level of which could potentially be violated with ads of which exclude minorities.

“The problem is actually when Facebook develops a tool like of which … if the idea’s an advertiser who’s working in a part of the market covered by discrimination laws, like the housing market, then Facebook is actually going to be liable for discrimination,” Relman said.

Facebook screens as well as approves all ads using both humans as well as algorithms. the idea could easily miss one of which’s discriminatory.

“[Facebook] realizes the idea’s a powerful tool being able to sort people based on race or gender,” Relman said. “nevertheless This particular can be used in insidious ways to exclude people as well as the idea’s a very dangerous practice.”

Related: Facebook will show you ads even if you use ad blockers

Any advertiser can exclude certain “Ethnic Affinities” by clicking “exclude people” on the ad creation page.

Facebook says the ad targeting options are meant to let advertisers granularly target only those individuals who would likely be interested within the product.

facebook ethnic affinity ad

Christian Martinez, head of multicultural at Facebook, defended the use of ad targeting based on Ethnic Affinities in a blog post published after the ProPublica report.

Martinez said Facebook wants its users to see ads of which are specifically relevant to them — of which This particular is actually a way of acknowledging as well as embracing diversity.

“Everyone benefits via access to content of which’s more relevant to them. nevertheless This particular is actually especially critical for people who choose to affiliate with ethnic communities,” he wrote.

So-called “exclusion targeting” is actually common within the advertising industry, he said, when Facebook sees published ads of which violate the rules, the idea promptly removes them.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Facebook confirmed the company prohibits people via using ads to discriminate: “Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, as well as they require compliance with the law. We take prompt enforcement action when we determine of which ads violate our policies.”

This particular type of ad targeting is actually not used by Google (GOOG), which allows exclusionary advertising based on age, gender, as well as parental status, nevertheless not race or ethnicity.

sy88pgw (San Francisco) First published October 30, 2016: 3:10 PM ET

Facebook's ad options could be discriminatory

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