“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,”Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development said in motivation. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.” This came after just last week, Facebook said it would pay about $5 million to settle several lawsuits that alleged its advertising platform allowed for discrimination in housing, employment and credit ads. It also announced several steps to address the issue, including a separate advertising portal for housing, employment and credit ads that offers significantly less targeting options.
A preliminary investigation began during the Obama administration. In August 2018, Carson accused Facebook of enabling housing discrimination by allowing advertisers to exclude people based on race, color, national origin, religion, family status, gender and disability. Facebook expressed surprise over the civil charges, saying it has been working with HUD to address its concerns. The company has long faced criticism about its advertising platform.