Facebook strives to end age, gender and location discrimination

In response to litigation by the  National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and other parties, Facebook is making changes to its ad policy to no longer discrimination based on age, gender or zip code.

In a blog post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg made the following commitments:

  • Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code.
  • Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall. Multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.
  • We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the US targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you.

“Housing, employment and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people,” said Sandberg.

The ACLU posted further details about the settlement, including that “housing,employment, and credit  (“HEC”) ads … must have a minimum geographic radius of 15 miles from a specific address or from the center of a city. Targeting by zip code will not be permitted, “and  “will not have targeting options that describe or appear to be related to personal characteristics or classes protected under anti-discrimination laws. This means that targeting options that may relate to race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, family status, disability, and sexual orientation”