"Then Facebook approves and permits advertisers to publish these ads in a discriminatory manner without consumers ever knowing they have been excluded".
Last year, amid concerns over how it collects user data and in preparation for tighter privacy regulation in Europe, Facebook shut down an advertising product that allowed marketers to use data from people's offline lives to target them on Facebook. Now, the social media giant is stepping away from that approach, amid mounting evidence that its microtargeting techniques were abused.
Until now, the company had made only minimal tweaks to its systems and largely resisted calls for change, arguing that the ads were standard in online advertising. Many companies use Facebook to recruit workers. Facebook said it hopes to implement the requirements by the end of the year.
In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg declined to say whether the changes will hurt the company's advertising revenue.
It's important to note that going forward Facebook will enact a structural change in an effort to prevent malicious actors from gaming its all-too-easily gamed system.
Federal housing law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, and family status. It's also still dealing with fallout from the 2016 election, when, among other things, Facebook allowed fake Russian accounts to buy ads targeting USA users to stir up political divisions. "They should never be used to exclude or harm people".
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The organizations found that the social network's ad targeting options is vulnerable to discriminatory content. The ACLU was part of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged discrimination against potential job seekers. Some firms, for example, were targeting ads only to people under age 45.
But a subsequent investigation by ProPublica in 2017 still found "a significant lapse" in how Facebook monitored advertisers. It said at the time that it had already removed thousands of categories of potentially sensitive personal attributes from its exclusion ad targeting tools.
Tuesday's announcement goes much further.
"In the first-of-its-kind settlement announced today, Facebook has agreed to create a separate place on its platform for advertisers to create ads for jobs, housing, and credit", explains a March 19 ACLU press release.
The company will also roll out a new page where US users can search for and see current housing-related ads, even if those ads didn't appear on their News Feed.
However, the company still faces an administrative complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August over the housing ads issue.