Facebook Finally Agrees To Dump Discriminatory Ad Tool
Six years after ProPublica exposed that Facebook allows advertisers to exclude Black users and others, the corporation reached an agreement with the Justice Department to reform its advertising algorithm system, Ariana Tobin and Ava Kofman reported for the independent media outlet early.
Photo Insert: As part of the settlement, Meta also agreed to pay a $115,054 fee, the maximum allowed by the law.
Meta Platforms — formerly known as Facebook — agreed to eliminate features in its advertising business that allow landlords, employers, and credit agencies to discriminate against groups of people protected by federal civil rights laws in a settlement announced by the Department of Justice on Tuesday. According to ProPublica, Facebook allowed housing marketers to prevent African Americans and others from seeing some of their adverts. Housing, job, and credit discrimination based on race, religion, gender, family status, or handicap is illegal under federal law.
For years, ProPublica and other researchers demonstrated that problems with the transmission of advertisements related to housing, job, and credit continued, despite Facebook's vow to close the gaps we discovered. The settlement reached this week is the result of a three-year-old complaint filed by the Trump administration charging that Meta's ad targeting system violated the Fair Housing Act.
The DOJ also claimed that Facebook employed a machine learning algorithm to restrict and generate ad audiences, skewing distribution in favor of or against legally protected groups. This was the first time the federal government used the Fair Housing Act to challenge algorithmic unfairness. As part of the settlement, Meta also agreed to pay a $115,054 fee, the maximum allowed by the law.
“Because of this ground-breaking lawsuit, Meta will — for the first time — change its ad delivery system to address algorithmic discrimination,” US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York said. “But if Meta fails to demonstrate that it has sufficiently changed its delivery system to guard against algorithmic bias, this office will proceed with the litigation.” Meta has agreed to deploy new advertising methods that will be vetted by a third-party reviewer and overseen by the court.