Already Under Fire, Facebook Confronts Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

While Facebook allows its advertisers to target certain audiences, the social media company has claimed that it does not permit advertisers to withhold housing or employment ads from groups defined by certain protected traits. However, the National Fair Housing Alliance believes that Facebook still permits this type of targeting in the area of housing. A lawsuit recently filed in New York asserts that landlords and real estate brokers that advertise on Facebook can exclude women, families, disabled individuals, and other groups from viewing ads. This would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Facebook has denied the allegations, which echo a 2016 investigation by ProPublica. This investigation appeared to reveal that Facebook allowed advertisers to filter ads according to the “ethnic affinities” of sections of the population. In response, Facebook announced that it disabled the use of ethnic affinity marketing and prohibited ads that have discriminatory content. Between then and now, however, evidence has allegedly continued to surface of housing and employment ads that excluded groups defined by racial, religious, and age-related traits.

Read the filing in greater detail at Justia Dockets & Filings.