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Facebook lawsuit alleges discrimination in advertising

Social media giant, Facebook, has come under heat recently. There have been allegations related to privacy issues and information sharing, among others. The most recent kerfuffle relates to discrimination and how Facebook allows its advertisers to target ads. Colorado fair housing advocates are now suing, alleging that their marketplace allows discrimination.

The Federal court lawsuit brought seeks to prove that Facebook has been continuing to allow advertisers to discriminate, even though civil rights and housing groups have notified the company as far back as 2016 of its discriminatory status. It also notified them that Facebook is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. It seeks unspecified damages and a court order to end discrimination. The lawsuit stems from the advertising platform in which it allegedly allows landlords and real estate brokers to target advertising to discriminate against families with children, women and those with disabilities.

Facebook's ad platform is not solely for use by the housing market. The platform allows businesses, large and small, to place ads on Facebook for a fee. But, the housing market is governed by several Fair Housing laws and regulations that other businesses and markets are not. By allowing real estate marketers to choose or avoid gender, families or disabled preferences in their ads, in theory, it is creating a discriminatory marketplace.

Damages sought against Facebook are unspecified at this time, but this lawsuit certainly does not help the company's outlook. Its stock has dropped severely over the last quarter, and the lawsuit certainly does not help its public image. This just shows that no matter how big the company, housing discrimination can still occur, and those facing it should seek an attorney's help to vindicate their rights.

Source: The Denver Post, "Facebook sued by housing advocates alleging marketplace allows for discrimination," Larry Neumeister, March 27, 2018

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