Meta to Give up its Discriminating Ad-Targeting System

Meta Housing Ads Lawsuit

Meta Cooperates Facing Chargers of Digital Discrimination

A historic legal event took place when, after accusations of unlawful discrimination put in the design of the targeted advertising system employed by Meta, the company agreed to cease using the tool and pay the penalty of around $115,000.

The source of the news is the June 21 official statement of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has investigated discrimination in Meta ad-serving software. The official charge (of discrimination) issued by HUD on On March 28, 2019 was a nudge to start the disputed lawsuit. The fact is that in order to select the audience for advertisements for the sale and rental of housing, the Meta ad distribution system employs the criteria mentioned in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, namely its eighth and ninth parts, also known as Fair Housing Act. This law states that the sale or rental of housing must not involve discrimination on the part of the property owner, and this applies to both the transactions themselves and the advertising that precedes them. Advertising must not discriminate against the audience based on race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. The prosecution argues that this is exactly what happens when the ad targeting system, based on the data mentioned, does not allow part of the audience to see some ads at all. At the same time, people are not even aware of such filtering.

Significantly, this is the first time the law has been applied to digital advertising and digital targeting mechanisms. The U.S. Department of Justice noted that the Meta agreed to develop a new tool under the supervision of the DoJ. The new product must exclude discrimination and be built on other filtering criteria. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, said that if Meta continues to use discriminatory technologies, the civil rights lawsuit will not be dismissed and litigation will continue.

For the time being, Meta has a settlement of the lawsuit and seven months (until December 31) to come up with the revised ad-targeting tool. Otherwise, the corporation would have to stand before a federal court.

By Stephanie Adlam

I write about how to make your Internet browsing comfortable and safe. The modern digital world is worth being a part of, and I want to show you how to do it properly.

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