Late last year, Facebook committed to updating its ad targeting practices to prevent discrimination for housing, employment or credit-related ads. Today, the company is putting its ad discrimination policy into practice with policy updates, tools and further education.
Facebook is strengthening its stance with clearly defined prohibitions against ads with discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability or medical/genetic condition.
Facebook has also updated its policy with a section about discriminatory practices. Advertisers are prohibited from wrongfully targeting or excluding audiences in their ads. This section expands to groups of individuals who are connected to the ACLU, Department of Justice — Civil Rights Division, Leadership Conferences on Civil and Human Rights, the Civil Financial Protection Bureau, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Facebook is now using machine-learning-based technology that identifies problematic ads using multicultural affinity targeting under housing, credit or employment opportunities, and an advertiser may see a rejection message when making an attempt to isolate these groups.
When ads are created that may fall under employment, credit or housing, an advertiser must agree that they are in compliance with all policies.
In a statement from the ACLU, attorney Rachel Goodman welcomed the change. “We’re glad to see Facebook implementing strong policies so that advertisers of housing, credit and employment don’t use Facebook’s ad targeting to exclude certain users,” she said. “Civil rights laws prohibit that kind of discriminatory targeting. Facebook has done the right thing by building new systems to help make sure that people aren’t denied opportunities because of who they are. We urge the rest of the online advertising industry to follow suit.”
That sentiment was repeated by Aaron Rieke, Principal at Upturn, a law and policy firm, who said, “Facebook is combining thoughtful policies and smart technological enforcement. Together, these changes will help prevent discriminatory ad targeting. I hope other companies are paying attention.”
Facebook is continually working against discrimination by ensuring they are working with organizations and governmental entities to level the playing field to foster tolerance and inclusion, and they’ll be working with many more groups toward that objective.