In a post from September 2018, I reported that Facebook’s targeting advertising practices have subjected the social media site to scrutiny, including multiple civil lawsuits and administrative complaints. In short, the various plaintiffs asserted that Facebook’s micro-targeting permitted advertisers to “screen out” members of various protected classes. Facebook did this, the complaints allege, by using data to exclude women, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and minority groups from certain advertising (including those for housing).

In an effort to resolve some of these complaints, just yesterday, Facebook announced that it would overhaul its targeting advertising platforms, by creating a separate portal to limit how much advertising for housing can micro-target potential customers. Facebook believes that the new portal will prevent advertisers from using protected classes in a manner contrary to federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.

To be sure, there is also a financial component – the settlements announced yesterday noted that Facebook would pay less than $5 million to the various parties, including $2.5 million to a fair housing advocacy group to train advertisers to create appropriate housing ads. As a further part of the resolution, Facebook intends to give users the ability to search all housing-related ads that appear on the platform regardless of if the reader received the ad in a personal news feed or news clip. Now, Facebook still needs to resolve a HUD administrative complaint (alleging that Facebook supported housing discrimination by permitting advertisers to exclude potential renters based on race, gender, zip code, and/or religion) that was not a part of the settlements announced yesterday.

Look, targeting advertising has been around from the time of the first ad placed in a newspaper. In our world, of course, apartment communities seek to advertise in sources that will reach the most likely renters. Makes good sense. We want to spend our advertising dollars wisely. In other words, be INCLUSIVE with your targeted ads. Facebook got into trouble because it was alleged to have EXCLUDED certain protected classes. Make sense?

Just A Thought.