Facebook allows landlords to violate the law: Cuomo

The investigation echoes a similar March suit against the social media giant from Housing and Urban Development

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

Facebook’s reputation is taking another hit: this time, it’s for continued claims of alleged fair housing discrimination.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday ordered the New York Department of Financial Services to investigate claims that Facebook is letting landlords use their advertising platform to reach the “right” kind of tenants. The reports claim that advertisers were using Facebook’s platform to screen out zip codes in order to target demographic groups that are protected classes, a problem that plagues the city 50 years after legislation was enacted to desegregate housing.

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According to an official, the investigation will focus on how advertisers use Facebook’s platform, the New York Daily News reported.

“The allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for,” Cuomo said. “(We will) investigate these claims and help ensure that New Yorkers seeking housing for themselves and their families are not discriminated against.”

In March, Cuomo reached an agreement to amend the New York State human rights law to add income to the list of protected classes under statewide law. The law prohibits landlords and lenders from cherry picking groups of people based on race, religion, national origin, familial status, sex and disability, among others. But the myriad of options Facebook offers advertisers — including selecting zip code — raise questions about enforceability. The claims echo some of the allegations lobbed against Facebook in a March Housing and Urban Development suit. [NYDN] — Georgia Kromrei

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