Facebook slashes 5,000 targeted ad options after HUD complaint

Online advertisers will no longer be allowed to exclude audiences based on ethnicity, race, religion or ZIP code

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Facebook is making changes to their company advertising policy in an effort to slash thousands of options that allow advertisers to target certain ethnicities and engage in discriminatory advertising.

The decision to cut the options, which was first reported by HousingWire, comes in the wake of a discrimination complaint filed against the social networking giant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency says that Facebook’s online advertising program enabled discriminatory practices by letting ad purchasers target and limit ads for properties “based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or ZIP code.”

“We’re committed to protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms,” Facebook said in a blog post. “That’s why we’re removing over 5,000 targeting options to help prevent misuse.”

“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important,” the post continues.

In the coming weeks, Facebook says they will roll out a new certification tool to all advertisers.

Advertisers will be required to complete this certification in order to continue advertising on our site,” said Facebook. “We’ve designed this in consultation with outside experts to underscore the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination.”

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