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Via a Settlement Agreement, Facebook Agrees to Change Its Ways

Over the last three years or so, Facebook has been accused by racial minorities, women, and older workers of allowing advertisers to target their content on the platform in a discriminatory manner. In response to the five lawsuits filed against it, Facebook has agreed to pay $5 million to settle the claims and undertake measures to block discriminatory advertising.
The primary allegation was that Facebook’s technology allowed advertisers to show their content only to certain groups of people while excluding protected groups. According to reports, advertising generated around $55 billion for Facebook last year. With this settlement, the social media platform agrees to bring changes to how users are targeted, ensuring that the affected groups cannot be excluded from advertising content for new jobs, new apartments or credit. Instead of allowing advertisers to target users based on thousands of interests, those categories will be whittled down to a few hundred, making it harder for advertisers to specifically limit who sees the ads. Advertisers will not be allowed to micro-target users by options that appear related to age, gender, zip code or other categories prohibited by anti-discrimination laws. Facebook will also include a new tool allowing users to search through all housing ads on the platform to ensure they have full access. These efforts will be monitored by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Communication Workers of America with these groups maintaining the right to test the system to find issues. Additionally, Facebook has agreed to study potential bias built into its algorithms. These new tools will be implemented by the end of the year.