Facebook has long allowed advertisers to use its algorithms to market to specific groups of people. But many advertisers have been called out for abusing those services to discriminate, either purposefully or unintentionally excluding groups of people from their target audience. The company became the subject of several discrimination lawsuits after a 2016 ProPublica investigation found that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude users by race.
Facebook is also under federal investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which alleges Facebook’s ad-targeting system encourages discrimination and violates the Fair Housing Act. The agency is scrutinizing Twitter and Google for similar potential abuses.
The housing companies named in the charges are Bozzuto, Fairfield Residential (San Diego), Fore Property (Las Vegas), Greystar (Charleston, S.C.), Kettler (McLean, Va.), the Tower Companies (Rockville, Md.) and Wood Partners (Atlanta).