SAN FRANCISCO— The company that owns Facebook, has agreed to change its ad targeting technology and pay $115,000 to settle US government claims that the social media giant let different people see different housing ads.
Under the terms of a deal that still needs to be approved by a court, Meta will use AI to make sure that ads reach people of all ages, genders, and races.
In a post, Roy Austin, who is Meta’s deputy general counsel, said, “We will be introducing a new method to make sure that the people who end up seeing a housing ad are more like the people who should be seeing that ad.”
In 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Facebook “illegally discriminates based on race, colour, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability” by limiting who can see housing-related ads.
Facebook has become a multibillion-dollar advertising powerhouse because it has a lot of information about its users. This information lets companies target certain demographics more precisely, but it has also led to claims of privacy violations and unfair treatment.
Austin said that while HUD’s claims were mostly about housing ads, Meta will also use the new system to make sure that ads for jobs or credit don’t show bias.
Meta has been working with HUD on a “variance reduction system” to stop ads on its platform from being targeted unfairly.
The proposed settlement said that Meta had already made changes to address concerns about discrimination in housing ads, and those changes will stay in place.
Facebook said at the beginning of 2019 that it was changing the way it uses targeted advertising. This was part of a deal with activist groups that said Facebook was unfair in the messages it sent about jobs, housing, credit, and other services.
The settlement said that by the end of this year, Meta will stop letting ads be targeted with a pair of tools called “special audience” that could pick out certain groups of people.
Court documents say that Meta will also pay a civil penalty of $115,000 and let a third party check to make sure it is following the terms of the settlement.