Social media’s most influential site is failing to enforce its own ban on advertising that encourages discrimination in housing, credit or employment.
The non-profit news source ProPublica released a study
that showed how it was about purchase dozens of rental housing advertisements on Facebook with the request that they not be shown to specific demographics including African-Americans, Jews, people interested in wheelchair ramps, Spanish speakers, expatriates from Argentina and mothers with high school-age children. All of these groups are protected under the Fair Housing Act, but ProPublica said its advertisement requests were approved in a matter of minutes.
ProPublica also sought to publish a Facebook rental advertisement that sought deny rental housing to those “interested in Islam, Sunni Islam and Shia Islam.” That took a longer approval time, getting online after 22 minutes.
“This was a failure in our enforcement and we’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments,” Ami Vora, Vice President of Product Management at Facebook, said in an e-mailed statement. “The rental housing ads purchased by ProPublica should have but did not trigger the extra review and certifications we put in place due to a technical failure.”
Vora also claimed that Facebook’s successfully flagged millions of ads” in the credit, employment and housing categories and would begin requiring self-certification for advertisements in all categories that choose to exclude an audience segment. “Our systems continue to improve but we can do better,” Vora said.