Does Facebook Violate The Fair Housing Act?


The Resource TV asserts that HUD is not happy with Facebook’s ad targeting platform. They believe this platform is so good at allowing one to hit his or her target market that HUD feels it may have the potential to violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This is a federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination in housing-related transactions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status. The hosts believe this is a great law that makes tons of sense.

The problem, the Resource TV says, is that HUD figured out that Facebook’s ad-targeting tool could allow advertisers to try to hide housing-related ads from minorities. They state that “Facebook advertisers can use the social network’s ad-targeting platform to push ads to users on the basis of their ‘ethnic affinity’ by choosing to exclude certain affinities, such as African American, Hispanic and Asian American. And that’s exactly what happened. A Facebook advertiser ran an ad that targeted Facebook users who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an ‘affinity’ for African American, Hispanic and Asian American people.”

HUD responded by saying the ad was a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act. Facebook responded and defended its position, asserting the ad was alright because it didn’t have “negative exclusions” in the ad that would violate ad policies. This episode tackles the question of whether Facebook’s targeting ad platform may violate the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act does prohibit discrimination in housing-related transactions. So, does that mean advisers don’t have the right to choose how they spend their marketing dollars? Or do they…as long as anyone can purchase their product, including those who were excluded from the target ad? Watch this episode and decide for yourself.

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