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Charge on Facebook for Discriminating People on the Basis of their Identity

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Thursday

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The total number of vanished posts could be significantly higher, as the very nature of the issue makes it extremely difficult to make a full accounting of what exactly has gone missing over the years. VOA

Facebook was charged with discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of its ad-targeting system.

HUD said Thursday Facebook is allowing advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood by drawing a red line around those neighborhoods on a map and giving advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women.

The agency also claims Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude people that the social media company classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes.

HUD, which is pursuing civil charges and potential monetary awards that could run into the millions, said Facebook’s ad platform is “encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination” because it allows advertisers to exclude people who they don’t want to see their ads.

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The claim from HUD comes less than a week after Facebook said it would overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing. Wikimedia

The claim from HUD comes less than a week after Facebook said it would overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing , credit and employment ads as part of a legal settlement with a group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others.

The technology at the heart of the clashes is what has helped turned Facebook into a goliath with annual revenue of close to $56 billion.

It can offer advertisers and groups the ability to direct messages with precision to exactly the crowd that they want to see it. The potential is as breathtaking as it is potentially destructive.

Facebook has taken fire for allowing groups to target groups of people identified as “Jew-haters” and Nazi sympathizers. There remains the fallout from the 2016 election, when, among other things, Facebook allowed fake Russian accounts to buy ads targeting U.S. users to enflame political divisions.

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The technology at the heart of the clashes is what has helped turned Facebook into a goliath with annual revenue of close to $56 billion. Pixabay

The company is wrestling with several government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices. A shakeup this month that ended with the departure of some of Facebook’s highest ranking executives raised questions about the company’s direction.

The departures came shortly after CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a new “privacy-focused” vision for social networking. He has promised to transform Facebook from a company known for devouring the personal information shared by its users to one that gives people more ways to communicate in truly private fashion, with their intimate thoughts and pictures shielded by encryption in ways that Facebook itself can’t read.

ALSO READ: Facebook Bans White Nationalism, Separatism

However, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said Thursday there is little difference between the potential for discrimination in Facebook’s technology, and discrimination that has taken place for years.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” Carson said. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.” Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Thursday. (VOA)

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Political ad Spend on Facebook Picks up in April

The 2019 Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19

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FILE - The Facebook app icon is shown on an iPhone in New York. VOA

Political parties and their affiliates ramped up spending on social media ads ahead of the third phase of Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for Tuesday, show data released by Facebook Ad Library.

Indians spent around Rs 7 crore for running political ads on Facebook and Instagram in the first 20 days of April, while the amount spent on these platforms in February-March was about Rs 10 crore.

Facebook’s Ad Library, a searchable database, includes ads related to politics and issues of national importance run on Facebook or Instagram.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its affiliates continue to lead the ad spending on Facebook. The official BJP page took the top spot in the list of spenders on social media platforms. Of the Rs 1.3 crore that it spent on Facebook, Rs 44.32 lakh was spent during the week ending April 20.

The official Congress page on Facebook spent Rs 56.69 lakh during February-April 20.

However, supporters and affiliates of political parties account for most of the spending on the social media platforms.

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FILE – An Indian man surfs a Facebook page at an Internet cafe in New Delhi, India, Feb. 9, 2016. VOA

For example, the pro-BJP pages — Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat (Rs 2.23 core), My First Vote For Modi (Rs 1.08 crore) and Nation with NaMo (Rs 1.20 crore) among others — spent much more than the Congress.

Similarly, the pro-Congress page “Bande Mein Hai Dum” spent Rs 2.59 lakh for drumming up support for the grand old party on Facebook and the Indian Youth Congress spent Rs 6.52 lakh on the social media platform.

Among the regional parties, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lead the spending table on Facebook.

Also Read- Warning for WhatsApp Users in UAE Issued: Report

On Twitter, the accounts spending over $100 during the past week belonged to BJP MLA from Mandawa Narendra Kumar, Mumbai Congress unit chief Milind Deora, Congress leader and former Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, BJD President Naveen Patnaik and the TN Youth Party.

The 2019 Lok Sabha election is being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. (IANS)