Responding to accusations that its ad targeting system has been used to discriminate based on attributes such as ethnicity and religion, Facebook announced Tuesday it is removing more than 5,000 ad targeting options.
TechCrunch reported the news came shortly after the Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a new complaint against Facebook.
HUD accused the social-media giant of helping landlords and home sellers violate the Fair Housing Act, pointing out that Facebook’s ad settings allow advertisers to target certain demographics.
“When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face,” Anna María Farías, assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity,said in a statement.
Facebook insisted its advertising policies already barred the practice but it would continue to work with HUD to address its complaints.
TechCrunch noted that Facebook recently came under fire for allowing advertisers to target users based on interests related to their political beliefs, sexuality and religion.
The problem in Europe is that those categories are now deemed as “sensitive information” under data protection laws.
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