Facebook hit with lawsuit over alleged housing ad discrimination

Nonprofit alleges advertisers can discriminate against women, disabled people

TRD New York /
Mar.March 28, 2018 08:00 AM

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook vowed to end discrimination in housing ads on its network, but a new lawsuit alleges the company didn’t live up to its promise.

The National Fair Housing Alliance and other groups allege in their suit, filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday, that the company “continues to enable landlords and real estate brokers to bar families with children, women and others from receiving rental and sales ads for housing.”

In October 2016 ProPublica reported that Facebook allows companies who advertise real estate on its network to exclude ethnic minorities from seeing the ads. In response, Facebook said it would no longer allow advertisers to target housing ads using ethnic criteria, but ProPublica again found holes in the system.

The lawsuit alleges advertisers can still exclude women or disabled people, allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act. The plaintiffs created fake housing ads in New York and were able to exclude “moms of grade school kids” from viewing them while targeting “men,” the New York Times reported.

University of Kentucky law professor Robert Schwemm said Facebook is responsible for its targeted ads. “By allowing housing advertisers to click certain boxes in order to refine their ads and exclude certain protected groups, Facebook is more than just a neutral conveyor of information, like, say, a phone company, which is not liable for its customers’ discriminatory ads or statements,” he said. [NYT]Konrad Putzier

Related Article

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator James Skoufis (Credit: Getty Images, NY Senate)

Owners of some residential properties can’t hide behind
LLCs anymore

Aggressive iBuyer Opendoor acquires title and escrow company

Here are 5 takeaways from TRD’s deep dive into Eklund-Gomes’ national expansion

Nashville broker posts oral sex selfie alongside kitchen and pool listing pics

From left: Rory Golod, Robert Reffkin and 1328 Fulton Street (Credit: Google Maps)

Compass is growing rapidly in UWS and Brooklyn

Elevated risk: Malfunction at NYCHA is putting public housing residents at greater risk of being injured in its elevators

How do brokers get listings from the Department of Justice?

Jacob Sudhoff and Scott Durkin (Credit: Sudhoff Companies, Emily Assiran, iStock)

Douglas Elliman is coming to Texas