Sunday December 15, 2019
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US Department Charges Facebook with Housing Ad Bias: Report

These changes were the result of settlement agreements with leading civil rights organisations and ongoing input from civil rights experts, said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday charged Facebook with housing discrimination, saying the social media giant encouraged and caused housing discrimination through ad targeting.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live. Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.

According to a report in The Verge, the charges were based on a complaint filed in August.

The department accused Facebook of allowing advertisers to exclude certain people from seeing ads, including parents, people born outside the US, non-Christians and those interested in Hispanic culture or accessibility matters.

A Facebook representative was quoted as saying they were surprised by HUD’s decision. “We’ve been working with them to address the concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination,” the spokesperson told The Verge.

facebook, iphone, new york
FILE – The Facebook app icon is shown on an iPhone in New York. VOA

In a blog post on March 19, Facebook 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 were the result of settlement agreements with leading civil rights organisations and ongoing input from civil rights experts, said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

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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 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. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Commits $130 mn to Build Global Oversight Board for Ensuring Accountability

Facebook intends to continue funding the board's operations in the future, and these reports will be used to assess the need for additional, substantive and long-term funding

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Facebook
Facebook said it has established the independent Oversight Board Trust to ensure the board can safeguard its ability to make independent decisions and recommendations. Pixabay

Facebook has made an initial commitment of $130 million to build a global oversight board that will ensure good governance and accountability across its services and platforms.

The initial funding will cover operational costs such as office space, staff and travel expenses and should allow the board to operate for at least its first two full terms, approximately six years, Brent Harris, Director of Governance and Global Affairs at Facebook, said in a statement.

The board will submit a yearly budget to the trust for approval and disbursement of funds.

Annual reports from the board and trust will help to document the health and effectiveness of the board, including its stewardship of these resources.

Facebook intends to continue funding the board’s operations in the future, and these reports will be used to assess the need for additional, substantive and long-term funding.

Last November, Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his vision for what content governance should look like for Facebook.

Facebook said it has established the independent Oversight Board Trust to ensure the board can safeguard its ability to make independent decisions and recommendations.

Facebook
Facebook has made an initial commitment of $130 million to build a global oversight board that will ensure good governance and accountability across its services and platforms. Pixabay

“The board will have its own staff, independent from Facebook. To start, we expect this staff to include a director, case managers and dedicated staff members (or contracted services) who can support things such as the board’s communications, legal, human resources and research needs,” said Harris.

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In addition, said Facebook, it will continue to work with outside experts to source and review candidates for board membership, including those who’ve been recommended through the public portal, which we opened in September.

“We are eager to see the Oversight Board take shape and start hearing cases next year,” said Facebook. (IANS)