Meta settles US lawsuit on housing discrimination

Meta yes agree to settle 2019 charge that it housing discrimination through ad targeting. The Justice Department settlement will cause the company to end its use of the “Special Ad Audiences” tool that allegedly used a discriminatory algorithm to expand the reach of its home ads. on Facebook. Meta is alternative developing a new method, the “variance reduction system,” to ensure that family ads are relevant to eligible targeted viewers.

Meta adds that the decision to discontinue the use of Special Ad Objects also applies to credit and job ads. The company says all three categories are part of a “deep-seated problem” with discrimination in the US.

This is the first time the DOJ has used a case to address algorithmic biases under the Fair Housing Act, according to officials. Meta says it has been working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for more than a year to more precisely target ads and avoid discrimination. The new system will also be subject to DOJ approval and oversight.

The company has Restricted ad targeting in 2019 after settling another lawsuit alleging it violated housing discrimination laws. Advertisers are not allowed to target campaigns based on age, gender, or ZIP code. The special ad object was rolled out at the same time to help solve problems with the previous system, but Meta says its algorithms need to be adjusted to ensure fairness.

A settlement that’s not shocking. Meta has faced further allegations of allowing questionable ad targeting in areas like politics. Other tech heavyweights have also faced penalties. The Federal Trade Commission slapped Twitter with a $150 million fines to target reports as “phishing” based on sensitive contact information. The deal could help Meta avoid similar penalties and show it’s willing to cooperate when its advertising system is under intense scrutiny.

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