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Facebook charged with racial discrimination in targeted housing ads

The Facebook logo is displayed on a woman’s glasses in this picture, figure 3 June 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Illustration

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a surcharge of Facebook Inc on Thursday with violating the Fair housing act, alleging that the company targeted advertising discriminated against on the basis of race and color.

HUD said that Facebook also restricted who could see housing-related advertisements on the basis of national origin, religion, familial status, gender, and disability.

Facebook said it was surprised by the decision and has worked with HUD for addressing the problems and has taken important steps to prevent ads from discrimination on the platforms.

The social media giant said last week there would be a new advertising portal for ads that are linked to housing and employment that would limit targeting options for advertisers.

“Facebook is the discrimination of people based on who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “With the help of a computer to restrict a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

The Fair housing act prohibits discrimination in housing and related services to you, including online ads, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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