By Barry Eitel
Civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Facebook for enabling housing discrimination.
The housing rights activists, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), alleged that Facebook’s ad practices allow landlords and real estate agents to avoid serving housing ads to certain groups of people. The NFHA said landlords are able to avoid showing housing ads to women and families, for example.
“Amid growing public concern in the past weeks that Facebook has mishandled users’ data, our investigation shows that Facebook also allows and even encourages its paid advertisers to discriminate using its vast trove of personal data,” Lisa Rice, NFHA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“Facebook’s use and abuse of user data for discriminatory purposes needs to stop. It is already a challenge for women, families with children, people with disabilities and other under-served groups to find housing.”
Earlier this month, it was revealed that a political consultancy group was able to exploit Facebook user data on behalf of the 2016 presidential campaign for Donald Trump. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg personally apologized, but the social media giant has remained mired in controversy regarding how third parties can access user data.
Shares of Facebook dropped another 4.9 percent Tuesday to close at $152.22. Since the data breach was widely publicized on March 17, the stock has plummeted 18 percent.
The federal lawsuit filed by NFHA alleged that the way Facebook’s ad service is built allows for discrimination when it comes to housing. Landlords can choose not to show ads to certain groups of people based on gender, family status and a series of other qualities.
“Facebook’s platform that excludes these consumers from ever seeing certain ads to rent or buy housing must be changed immediately,” Rice continued.
“Facebook ought to be opening doors to housing opportunities instead of closing them.”
Facebook has not released any comments on the NFHA lawsuit.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.