The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has accused Facebook of housing discrimination. HUD alleges “Facebook unlawfully discriminates by enabling advertisers to restrict which Facebook users receive housing-related ads based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability.” The complaint continues, alleging the social media platform’s ad-targeting tools “invite advertisers to express unlawful preferences by suggesting discriminatory options.”

Those options include:

  • Choosing one gender as an ad-viewing audience
  • Selecting for or against families with children of certain ages
  • Not showing certain advertisements to users who have disability-related interests such as “assistance dogs” or “mobility scooters”
  • Selecting for or against national origin
  • Permitting advertisers to draw red lines around majority-minority ZIP codes and not showing ads to users in those ZIP codes


Facebook Responds

Unsurprisingly, Facebook wasted no time responding to the official complaint, writing in a public statement that “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. Over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse, and we’ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns.”

Anna Maria Farias, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, observed in response to the complaint, “The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with the click of a mouse.” She went on to say the tech giant uses its goldmine of personal data on users to “help advertisers discriminate” and that “it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.”

Other housing groups, including the National Fair Housing Alliance, have already taken Facebook to court over this issue.

Categories | Article | Market & Trends
Tags | HUD | Social Media
  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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