Facebook, US settle lawsuit over discriminatory housing advertising system, denied fees Meta

The US Department of Justice and Facebook owner Meta Platforms have settled a lawsuit over a housing advertising system that unlawfully discriminated against users based on race and other characteristics, the Department of Justice said. said on Tuesday.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Meta encourages advertisers to target users based on characteristics such as race, religion, and gender, in violation of the Federal Housing Act. That law prohibits housing discrimination based on such characteristics.

Meta denied wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a civil penalty of $115,054 (nearly lakh 89), the highest allowed by law. Advertisement-based discrimination complaints have plagued the company since 2016, and the company has reached settlements with Washington state and rights groups over similar allegations.

As part of the deal, the company has agreed to stop using an algorithmic engine called ‘Special Ad Objects’ and design a new housing advertising tool by the end of the year.

“As a result of this groundbreaking lawsuit, Meta will – for the first time – change its ad delivery system to address algorithmic discrimination,” said Damian Williams, US Attorney for Manhattan , speak in a statement.

Meta says it will also use the new system for job and credit related ads.

“Housing, employment, and credit discrimination is a deeply rooted problem with a long history in the United States, and we are committed to expanding opportunities for disadvantaged communities in remote areas. this time and elsewhere”, the company speak in a statement.

The case stems from a 2019 civil charge filed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

DOJ said Facebook made some changes as part of a 2019 agreement with rights groups, but said that agreement did not address ad delivery through machine learning algorithms.

The settlement reached on Tuesday can be reviewed by a judge.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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