Facebook Accused Of Housing Discrimination

Matt Bigler
August 20, 2019 - 10:19 am
Facebook HQ

PA Images/Sipa USA

Facebook's targeted ads have become targets themselves of a housing discrimination lawsuit.

A group of Facebook users claim they were blocked from seeing housing listings on the social media site because brokers excluded them using demographic data to filter people based on factors like age, gender and ethnic background. 

Gerard Mantese, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said one of his clients is a disabled, Latina, single mother whose rights were violated when real-estate listings were not made available to her. 

"Facebook allowed the placement of housing ads that excluded women, those with disabilities, and those of certain national origins, so that renters and homeowners in protected classes never even saw certain ads," he said. 

Mantese told KCBS Radio that with 2.5 billion users, the impact of the site's advertising practices are pervasive and unacceptable, /Lawyers are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit. 

"Discrimination in housing is especially devastating, because a home is the basis of a person's stability, their employment, their educational pursuit and their health," he said. 

"Discrimination has no place on our platform," a Facebook spokesperson said on Monday. 

The company has already made changes to the way housing ads appear on Facebook, and it no longer allows advertisers to choose which users see their ads based on their age, gender, zip code or ethnic group. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act by enabling unlawful discrimination.