Facebook Developer Conference F8

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The current White House administration is always embroiled (and being blamed) for its wrongdoings, but for once the flip has been switched.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, has charged Facebook with racial discrimination, claiming the company violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against people of color in targeted advertising when it comes to housing. The charges were filed on Thursday for a practice that Facebook has been accused of doing for years. According to The Huffington Post, the social media platform has been allowing landlords and real estate brokers to post discriminatory housing ads, despite its promises to crack down on such practices in 2016.

Simply put, in a formal complaint filed last August, Facebook created “pre-populated lists of people that allow advertisers to exclude certain types of consumers.”

The lawsuit alleged that these curated lists included barring women and families with children from viewing or receiving rental ads. This goes against The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968, which according to HUD covers “discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.”

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

In the full release, HUD explains the details and technology Facebook used to allegedly discriminate, saying, “HUD claims Facebook combines data it collects about user attributes and behavior with data it obtains about user behavior on other websites and in the non-digital world. Facebook then allegedly uses machine learning and other prediction techniques to classify and group users to project each user’s likely response to a given ad, and in doing so, may recreate groupings defined by their protected class.”

According to CNN, a Facebook spokesperson says they will work with civil rights experts on these issues and plans to fully cooperate with HUD.

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