Facebook facing housing discrimination charges from HUD

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook is being charged with housing discrimination by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The claim Thursday from HUD comes less than a week after Facebook said it would overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing , credit and employment ads as part of a legal settlement with a group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others.

Facebook has been dealing with several government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices. The company’s advertising methods generate most if its enormous profits.

HUD claims Facebook’s ad platform was “encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination” because it allows advertisers to exclude who they want from seeing the ads. The agency said Facebook technology illegally restricts who can view housing-related ads on its platforms and across the internet. It also claims Facebook gathers extensive data about its users and then uses that data to determine which users view housing-related ads.

HUD claims Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood and gave advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women.

Discrimination hasn’t been Facebook’s only problem with ad targeting. It’s taken fire for allowing advertisers to target groups of people identified as “Jew-haters” and Nazi sympathizers. It’s also still dealing with fallout from the 2016 election, when, among other things, Facebook allowed fake Russian accounts to buy ads targeting U.S. users to stir up political divisions.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company’s stock fell 1.1 percent before the market open.

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