Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr., reporting for ProPublica:

The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people. (Here’s the ad itself.)

When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Very surprising that a company that claims “diversity” justifies keeping prominent Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel on its board of directors would have a blatantly racist advertising policy.

Update: Their filter lets you screen out Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics, but it doesn’t let you screen out white people? How did anyone at Facebook think this was a good idea?

Friday, 28 October 2016