Facebook Removes Over 5K Discriminatory Ad Options in Response to HUD Complaint

Facebook's fast decreasing organic reach

Following a formal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Facebook and its alleged discriminatory ad targeting options, the company has decided to take down over 5,000 of its ad targeting options.

[bctt tweet=”Facebook removes over 5k ad targeting options partly in response to a #HUD complaint accusing #Facebook of discriminatory ad practices. Read on for more…#RelevanceNews” username=”relevance”]

These ad options enabled real estate and housing marketers to discriminate against persons based on race, religion, disability, and other demographics via their ad campaigns.

The original complaint, made public by HUD on August 17th, accused the troubled site of violating the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits real estate ads from discriminating based on sex, race, color, religion, handicap, familial status, or family origin.

According to HUD, Facebook’s ad targeting tools had been in violation of this Act since July 24th, 2018 (more on that here.)

The company announced this mass removal in a blog post on Tuesday entitled ‘Keeping Advertising Safe and Civil.’ Facebook states,

“While these [ad targeting] options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

Facebook Aims to Educate

In an effort to further educate advertisers and to prevent future legal nightmares, Facebook will also be rolling out a new non-discrimination policy certification to all U.S. advertisers in the coming weeks.

The certification will be available on the Ads Manager tool and all U.S. advertisers will have to complete it in order to continue marketing on the network.

Image Courtesy of Facebook Business

According to the blog post, Facebook has consulted with outside experts on the matter and have affirmed that the certification will roll out to additional countries over time. The company has stated that they will continue to update advertisers on new policies and ad targeting changes as they happen.

Final Thoughts

To say it’s been a rough year for Facebook would be an understatement. The company has been embroiled in data misuse scandals, they’ve been in a constant tug and war with foreign accounts churning out a steady stream of fake news, and their recent share loss was so steep it made the record books.

Because of all this, user trust has gone down and marketers have been trying desperately to keep up with the company’s numerous ad changes (launched to curb data misuse and prevent fake news.)

Regarding this most recent complaint, Facebook may have a hard time bouncing back. The company has been criticized since 2016 for its shady, discriminatory ad targeting practices and until now, they’ve done little to mend the wounds.

In 2016, the investigative news journal ProPublica discovered that Facebook permitted advertisers to exclude or target ads specifically to groups called “Ethnic Affinities,” including persons that are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic.

After this news broke out, Facebook updated some of its ad policies but it wasn’t enough. Now that Facebook has been slapped with a federal complaint, they’re finally taking action. The question still lingering on everyone’s minds however, is “is it too late?”

Let us know what you think about Facebook’s decision to kill over 5k of its ad options. How do you think it will impact your marketing strategies moving forward?