Facebook will end some ads that target users by their race. "We are going to turn off, actually prohibit, the use of ethnic affinity marketing for ads that we identify as offering housing, employment and credit," Erin Egan, Facebook's Vice President of US public policy, told USA Today.
This comes after a report by ProPublica that revealed advertisers had the ability to exclude or target ads by users' race as well as a pending class action lawsuit that claimed Facebook's racially targeted ads violated the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act in the US. Facebook could have violated the Fair Housing Act by allowing advertisers to discriminate on advertisements that pertain to housing. Why Facebook is ending only some ads that exclude or target users based on their race but keeping other remains unclear. Facebook declined to respond on the record to our questions about this.
"Recently, policymakers and civil rights leaders have expressed concerns that advertisers could misuse some aspects of our affinity marketing segments," Facebook said in a statement. "Specifically, they have raised the possibility that some advertisers might use these segments to run ads that discriminate against people, particularly in areas where certain groups have historically faced discrimination — housing, employment and the extension of credit."
We reached out to Facebook about why some ads are still able to target and exclude users based on their race, but Facebook declined to give an on the record response.