Facebook Sued Over Housing Discrimination

Facebook Sued Over Housing Discrimination

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONSFacebook is being sued over housing discrimination.

The National Fair Housing Alliance, along with affiliated groups in San Antonio, New York and Miami, have sued Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit says the company “continues to enable landlords and real estate brokers to bar families with children, women and others from receiving rental and sales ads for housing.”

The suit comes as the social media company continues to deal with charges of the misuse of data, belonging to 50 million of its users.

Read the entire lawsuit

The lawsuit said Facebook allows advertisers to “target” its audience by allowing them to “include” or “exclude” specific types of people.

To test its case, the NFHA submitted a fictitious ad in San Antonio for an apartment for rent, using Facebook presets that allowed them to exclude “parents with toddlers,” “parents with preschoolers,” “parents with early school-age children,” “parents with teenagers,” and “parents with preteens,” while targeting “men.”

The Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio created similar fictitious ads to exclude “corporate moms,” “stay-at-home moms” and “fit moms,” while using Facebook presets to include “men” and “no kids.”

“They are giving housing providers the tool to discriminate,” said Sandra Tamez, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio. “It’s problematic especially in a city like ours where we are segregated so much.”

A Facebook spokesperson told Texas Public Radio the lawsuit was without merit, and that there is no place for discrimination on the platform.

Meanwhile, the lawsoh uit said Facebook has been “on notice for more than a year,” citing an investigation by ProPublica in 2016 that its advertising platform violates fair housing laws.

In a second article in November, Propublica found Facebook housing ads that specifically excluded people based on race and religion, as well as people with disabilities.

Paul Flahive contributed to this report

Vince Kong can be reached at vince@tpr.org or on Twitter

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