May 19, 2022

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Trump administration charges Facebook Inc with housing discrimination

2 min read

The Trump administration has charged Facebook Inc. with violating the housing discrimination laws.

The social media company allowed advertisers to divert housing listings away from users who mentioned terms such as “assistance dog” and “mobility scooter,” or who are currently living in certain zip codes, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, HUD said.

In addition, the Justice Department on Friday joined a lawsuit against Facebook Inc, saying in a “statement of interest” that the company is discriminating by helping advertisers pick preferred users.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions, this includes print as well as online advertising, on the basis of race, religion or sex, among other things.

Facebook allows advertisers to pinpoint certain potential tenants or homebuyers while filtering out others, HUD alleges.

Anna María Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity said in a statement: “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.” 

A Facebook spokesperson replied to the charge saying in a statement: “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies,” and that the company will respond to DOJ’s statement of interest in court.

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