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Facebook vows to fight discrimination with ad-targeting revision

FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Facebook logo displayed in someone’s eyes, in Zenica, March 13, 2015.
(REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Illustration/Photo File)

Facebook is reviewing the ad-targeting systems for the combating of discrimination in housing, credit, and employment ads, the tech giant announced Tuesday.

The move is part of a court settlement with the plaintiffs that the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Civil rights organizations have also expressed their concerns about Facebook’s advertising methods.

The social network said that it is not allowing more housing, employment or the credit ads that are targeted to people by age, gender and zip code. Facebook will also have other targeting options so that your ads don’t exclude people on the basis of race, ethnicity and other legally protected categories in the U.S., including nationality and sexual orientation.

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“There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit, and this harmful behavior should not be done through Facebook ads,” said Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, in a statement. “Housing, employment and credit ads are critical to help people buy a new house, good career, and access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people.”

One of the complaints that said that Facebook violated the Fair housing act, because the targeting systems allow advertisers to exclude certain target groups, such as families with young children or people with disabilities, see housing ads. Others alleged job discrimination, with the ads that are shown for men but not women in traditionally male-dominated fields, or only the younger users.

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The settlement was described as “historic” by the ACLU. “The tech giant will take long overdue steps to prevent advertisers discriminate when sending work, housing, and credit ads,” the organization tweeted Tuesday.

The National Fair Housing Alliance also welcomed Facebook’s ad targeting revamp, that said, “will drive unprecedented and far-reaching changes in the tech giant’s advertising platform.

However, the company still faces an administrative complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August about the housing ads problem.

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Facebook is firmly in the spotlight in recent years amid the concerns about the impact on the society. The powerful tech giant comes under increasing pressure over the processing of the data of the user.

The company and its leadership also has to do with intense research to prove that Facebook’s commitment to privacy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently promised to develop new privacy-shielding messaging services.

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High-profile critics, such as President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Facebook of political bias, a charge the company denies.

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On Tuesday, Facebook apologized to the chairman of the social media director for the temporarily limit his account. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said that the problem was caused by the automated bots on its platform.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia, and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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