Woman Touching Screen Electronic Tablet Hand.Project Manager Researching ProcessOn November 11, 2016, Facebook announced to USA TODAY that it would no longer allow advertisers to exclude specific racial and ethnic groups when placing ads related to housing, credit or employment, according to a statement by Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice-president of U.S. public policy to USA Today.  According to the news article, Facebook will also require advertisers to affirm that they will not place discriminatory ads on Facebook, and will plan to offer educational materials to help advertisers understand their obligations.

This policy change comes after discussions with several federal lawmakers, policy leaders, and civil rights leaders, and after Facebook recently faced pressures from federal lawmakers for allowing advertisers to exclude racial and ethnical groups when placing ads related to houses for sale or apartments for rent.

Facebook offers multicultural marketing to allow advertisers to target certain groups of Facebook users, assigning members an “ethnic affinity” based on the pages and posts they have like or engaged with, and says it bans advertisers from discriminating against racial or ethnic groups.  Egan states that the tools were initially “intended to be inclusive”.  However, last week, a group of Facebook users filed a lawsuit seeking class action status against Facebook, asserting that this ad-targeting technology violated the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Facebook says the lawsuit is without merit and it will fight it.  Facebook’s changes, Egan says, come in part from “constructive dialogue” with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Brookings Institution and Upturn.

For more detail, see the original USA Today article here.