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The most ubiquitous social media Web site is being accused of being less than social to certain demographics by enabling its advertisers to target advertising to certain “ethnic affinities.”
According to a USA Today report, Facebook is the subject of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that accuses the company of running afoul of federal laws related to housing and employment discrimination. Facebook’s practice of enabling advertisers to target audiences included wording that said, “EXCLUDE people who match at least ONE of the following"—which cited African American, Asian Americans and four categories of Hispanics. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Karen Savage of New York and Victor Onuoha and Suzanne-Juliette Mobley of Louisiana, charged Facebook with being in violation of the Fair Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and called on the company "to end the illegal, proscribed uses of these functions" in its online advertising.
Facebook spokesperson Facebook Genevieve Grdina insisted the lawsuit lacked merit and that the company was in compliance with both the law and well-established promotional standards.
“Multicultural marketing is a common practice in the ad industry and helps brands reach audiences with more relevant advertising,” she said. “Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law.”