Facebook to curb discrimination in housing, job ads

San Francisco: In a bid to avoid discrimination in ads related to housing, jobs and credits, Facebook has announced new changes where anyone who wants to run such ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code.

These changes are the result of settlement agreements with leading civil rights organisations and ongoing input from civil rights experts, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post late Tuesday.

Last year, the US National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and other private parties, filed litigation against Facebook, saying it needs to build stronger protections against abuse.

“Our policies already prohibit advertisers from using our tools to discriminate. We’ve removed thousands of categories from targeting related to protected classes such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. But we can do better,” said Sandberg.

Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will now have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall.

Any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.

“We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the US targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you,” said the Facebook COO.